What I've Learned From No-Tilling: No-Tilled To Save Time, But Quickly Saw Soil Benefits

Western North Dakota farmer integrates cattle, dryland corn and multiple cover-crop species to build a productive no-till system.

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NAME: Lance Gartner

LOCATION: Glen Ullin, N.D.



CROPS NO-TILLED: Wheat, corn, oats, cover crops

The main reason I went into no-till was — as it is for many other no-tillers — due to labor issues. My Dad had a heart attack in 2000 and wasn’t able to help as much anymore. I was just killing myself trying to keep up with farming and the cattle and everything else.

After a couple of years, I started learning about soil health and my outlook on no-till really changed. One thing that really moved my operation forward is the use of cover crops.

It wasn’t until I started learning about cover crops, and what they can do for soil health, that I really started seeing that no-till was the way to go. The cover crops allow me to more fully integrate my cattle and farming operations by opening up more grazing opportunities.

I’ve been 100% no-till for 8 years now and, unfortunately, have only used cover crops for 3 of those years. I probably could have achieved the soil conditions I have now in 4 years, instead of 8, if I would’ve used cover crops right off the bat.

Even after 8 years, you can still see the effects of using a moldboard plow. We’ve got a plow-pan about 5 or 6 inches down. Then we switched to a chisel plow and that gave us a plow-pan about 3 to 4 inches down.


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Martha Mintz

Contributing Editor

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