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Over the course of 4 days, the National No-Tillage Conference offers a lot of information for no-tillers to absorb. In his presentation that wrapped up the 16th annual gathering of no-tillers this past January, Martinsville, Ohio, consultant Ed Winkle summarized some of the things that he learned — both from the 2008 meeting and recent conferences.
"How is all this information going to affect your bottom line is the question you need to ask, because we're all here to be more profitable, right?" the owner of Hymark Consulting said while challenging attendees. "No-till is great, but I'm here to make no-till make me more profit."
1. Pennsylvania no-tiller Russell McLucas has shown that investing in no-till equipment is more affordable than the machinery needed for conventional tillage, Winkle says. While it costs approximately $135,000 to equip a 400-acre, conventional-tillage operation, a grower can no-till with a 100-horsepower, 2-wheel-drive tractor; a 6-row, 30-inch-row corn planter; and a 10-foot no-till drill for just $71,000. That's a savings of $64,000.
2. Continuous corn plots since 1963 at Wooster, Ohio, showed that no-till at 135 bushels per acre out-yields chisel-plowed (121 bushels) or moldboard-plowed (113 bushels) systems. "Whether an average year, a high-yield year or a bad year, no-till wins the yield and profit," Winkle says of the data shared by former conference presenter Dean Martens. "These are positive data from the longest-term plots that I know of."
3. When it comes to planter setup, "we've modified planters to plant when others want to…