No-Till Plots Yield Answers

50 years of cutting-edge research at Ohio State University’s experimental fields have fueled the acceptance and growth of no-till.

Had two young researchers listened to the ridicule and scorn they faced 5 decades ago, no-till farming might not have grown as much as it has.

Instead of heeding skeptics, weed scientist Glover Triplett and soil physicist David Van Doren initiated experimental no-till plots in Wooster, Ohio, in 1962 with the support of The Ohio State University.

Currently under the auspices of the university’s Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC), the Wooster site — along with the Western and Northwest ag research stations in Hoytville and South Charleston — are considered the longest continuously maintained no-till plots in the world.

Named after Triplett and Van Doren in 2003, the plots in Wooster and Hoytville have been particularly important, having generated at least 70 published no-till research papers covering erosion, liming, slugs, crop rotation, earthworm activity, carbon sequestration, weed-seed banks and other topics.

But the first question tackled by Triplett and Van Doren at Wooster was the most basic.

“They just wanted to know if we could grow a crop without tillage because people said it was impossible,” says Warren Dick, a professor at Ohio State who’s been doing research on the long-term plots since the 1980s. “Conservation tillage was still a relatively new idea, even though it came out of the Dust Bowl era.

“As you went east of the Mississippi River, everybody was still plowing. It…

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John dobberstein2

John Dobberstein

John Dobberstein was senior editor of No-Till Farmer magazine and the e-newsletter Dryland No-TillerHe previously covered agriculture for the Tulsa World and worked for daily newspapers in Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Joseph, Mich. He graduated with a B.A. in journalism and political science from Central Michigan University.

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