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One of the comments No-Till Farmer editors heard while pulling together material for last month’s 40th-anniversary issue was that some educators aren’t on board in promoting no-till. Such appears to be the case with Emerson Nafziger, who continues to devote considerable effort to the need for tillage.
For example, the University of Illinois Extension agronomist isn’t convinced growers can be successful with no-till in a continuous-corn program — despite the fact that numerous no-tillers have been doing it successfully for years.
As reported by one of the editors of the weekly Illinois AgriNews newspaper, Nafziger told growers at a mid-August field day that the highly touted no-till farming era has “mysteriously” failed to materialize. Despite considerable emphasis on what was once thought to be a revolutionary farming practice, he finds Illinois farmers continue to just keep tilling away.
While Illinois may possibly have more no-tilled acres than any other state, Nafziger says the trend to more no-till isn’t backed up by facts. One reason has been a significant change in the definition of what qualifies as no-till, he says.
Instead of tillage being recognized as a formal practice, as it was 40 years ago, what’s important today is the amount of residue left on the soil surface. Some farmers disc stalks in the fall, deep rip and still believe they’re no-tilling when they’re planting in the spring, he says.
Looking back 30 years, Nafziger says, folks predicted that all a grower would…