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For Dave and Don Myers, measuring their progress in building a profitable no-till operation is a matter of inches — and measuring those inches.
They’ve tapped into precision technology as a way to boost the performance of planting, fertilizing and harvesting operations, and are getting a noticeable return.
“Once, you’re hooked on precision equipment, you’re hooked,” confides Dave Myers, who farms with his father, Don, near Leaf River, Ill.
In 2014, the Myerses no-tilled 1,850 acres of gently rolling farm ground in a corn-soybean rotation, and this year they plan to boost their farm to just over 2,000 acres.
Even with the cool, wet start to the 2014 season, the Myers averaged 173 bushels an acre for corn and 65 bushels for soybeans across all of their ground.
“That includes some bottom ground that suffered from too much rain in June,” Dave says. “We figured the crop season was 21 days behind this year. We finally finished combining the week before Thanksgiving.”
While the Myerses are avid no-tillers now, it wasn’t until 1989, as Dave joined the farm operation, that they started using it.
Before then, they followed conventional farming methods and found that the costs of it hindered their ability to expand their operation.
“Forty years ago, my Dad was thinking about ways he could make a one-pass planting system that would till the soil, lay down fertilizer and plant. We even thought about working the ground with a roto tiller ahead of the planter,” Dave recalls.