Converting Land to No-Till

When it comes to acquiring new land, the Rulon family at Arcadia, Ind., follows an intensive 3-year plan to make the switch to no-till. Roy, Ken and Rodney have been 100% no-till for nearly 25 years and rely on cover crops to improve soil fertility, efficiently manage soil nutrients, reduce erosion and increase organic matter. 

At the recent Iowa Cover Crops Conference, Ken Rulon said the farm’s 3-year program for no-tilling new ground is expensive, but one that quickly capitalizes on the many benefits of no-tilling. 

“We want to eliminate tillage and improve the ground as quickly as possible,” Rulon says. “Right away, we want to get the ground pattern tiled and eliminate any compaction and fertility concerns.”

Year One

To get started, the Rulons take eight soil-sample probes from each 1-acre grid to get a head start on meeting fertility needs. They also create a topographic map for each field and develop a tiling plan to effectively manage surface water. Where needed, waterways are installed using cost-share funds from the NRCS.

Based on soil test results, a portion of the prescribed lime and gypsum is applied after harvest and they rip the ground with an Unverferth Zone-Builder subsoiler.

Phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) are applied in early spring, along with 2 tons per acre of chicken manure. “Many of these newly managed fields have depleted soils, so the chicken manure helps improve the biological activity,” Rulon says. The field is then no-tilled to an early maturing corn, along with…

To view the content, please subscribe or login.
 Premium content is for our Digital-only and Premium subscribers. A Print-only subscription doesn't qualify. Please purchase/upgrade a subscription with the Digital product to get access to all No-Till Farmer content and archives online. Learn more about the different versions and what is included.

Lessiter frank

Frank Lessiter

Frank Lessiter has served as editor of No-Till Farmer since the publication was launched in November of 1972. Raised on a six-generation Michigan Centennial Farm, he has spent his entire career in agricultural journalism. Lessiter is a dairy science graduate from Michigan State University.

Top Articles

Current Issue


No-Till Farmer

Get full access NOW to the most comprehensive, powerful and easy-to-use online resource for no-tillage practices. Just one good idea will pay for your subscription hundreds of times over.

Subscribe Now

View More

Must Read Free Eguides

Download these helpful knowledge building tools

View More
Top Directory Listings