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My son, Mike, and I spent 6 days in mid-August looking at no-till in the Palouse, a 3,000-square-mile area located in the southeastern corner of Washington, north central Idaho and northeast Oregon. While I’ve visited this area several times in the past where no-tillers crop slopes as steep as 60%, I’d never been there during harvest until we made the trip in mid-August.
The area is reminiscent of Tuscany in Italy, except instead of vineyards, the main crop in the Palouse is wheat. The Mediterranean-like climate features cool, wet winters and warm, dry summers.
Scratching one more item off my annual birthday wish list, our trip included more than 12 hours of hang-onto-your-seat combine time. We also visited five veteran no-tillers representing 31,000 acres of no-till ground, two equipment dealers, two manufacturers, a 100% custom no-till seeding operator and a conservation district manager who oversees innovative programs for equipment loans and farmer-to-farmer mentoring.
Among visits with Washington and Idaho no-till pioneers such as John Aeschliman, Russ Zenner, Dick Wittman, Steve Mader and Frank Wolf, we witnessed firsthand their passion for no-till. Seeing their innovative spirit to advance things even further certainly charged up our batteries about no-till and our role in it.
Here are a few observations from our trip to the picturesque Palouse.
What’s In A Name? Area growers refer to themselves as direct-seeders. It’s because no-till got a bad reputation in the area when it was first attempted in southeastern Washington in the 1970s. In fact, the highly…