If you ever had doubts about long-term no-till, you needed to listen to four farmers speak at last winter’s Manitoba-North Dakota Zero Till Workshop in Minot, N.D.
To celebrate their 20th anniversary conference, the Manitoba- North Dakota Zero-Tillage Farmers Association assembled a panel of four farmers with each having more than 20 years of no-tilling experience.
Darrell Oech of Beach, N.D., experienced a major drought on his farm in 1980. Half the farm was in black fallow; the other half seeded to cereals failed. As a result, every acre was exposed to winter elements. The following spring was very windy and resulted in major erosion. Believing the elimination of tillage was essential, Oech started to no-till.
Oech believed it was necessary to introduce new, diverse crops into his system. So he started no-tilling broadleaf, grass, warm-season and cool-season crops. He’s found crop rotation is the oldest, most effective crop production practice there is to control weeds, insects and diseases and manage soil fertility.
At Birtle, Manitoba, Garth Butcher has been no-tilling since 1978 and has found the system highly profitable.
He maintains improved seedbed quality is a big benefit of zero tillage as it remains firm with plenty of available moisture near the surface. It’s also protected from wind and water erosion, moisture loss, the extremes of heat and cold and compaction.
Butcher has benefited greatly from zero tilling. Moisture is increased with no-till due to improved snow catch, reduced evaporation, reduced runoff and better soil…