Creating a New No-Till Management Style

As precision farming technology advances, no-tillers who fine tune their management style will keep the competitive edge.

Most people who meet Doug Har­ford are so im­pressed with his precision farming knowledge, they as­sume he holds a doctorate in agricultural engineering.

But the Mazon, Ill., no-tiller’s expertise does­­n’t come from the classroom. He be­came a master of the field through 22 years of research on his own farm.

While most no-tillers began experimenting with grid sampling within the past five or 10 years, Harford began in 1976. He set up 2 1/2-acre grids and marked the different soil types with colored pencils. It wasn’t until 1992 that he created yield maps.

“We had a 386 computer wedged in my combine cab with wires running everywhere,” recalls Harford. “It was the first yield monitor and it didn’t work out so well. The next year, we made some changes. I got an Ag Leader unit and laptop. I had a yield map of every field.

“What didn’t work at all in 1992 worked in 1993 in every field. My point is that you need to have patience.”

What’s Expected? After finding out how long Harford has been working with precision farming, your first question probably is, “Has he made any money with it?”

“That answer is no,” he admits. “But we need to have some patience to help us get to a point where we figure out where the money is.”

Harford enjoys telling the story of one of his first successes with the technology.

“This is a favorite story of mine because it really empowered me,” he says. “I…

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