What I've Learned From No-Tilling: Efficient Fertility, Cover Crops Set The Table For A Life Of No-Till

Cover crops, specialty products and strategic fertilizer placement provide a yield boost for veteran Pennsylvania no-tiller H. Grant Troop.

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NAME: H. Grant Troop

LOCATION: Oxford, Pa.


ACRES: 250

CROPS: Corn, soybeans

I now know that what I was calling no-till in the early 1970s wasn’t what many would classify as no-till, but my farming operation now certainly fits the definition. Only the coulters on my no-till planter and drill crack the surface of my fields today.

During my senior year of college, I started farming on my own after working with my uncles on their farms. They were among the earliest no-tillers, but it wasn’t an easy task for them.

The old Allis-Chalmers no-till planters were really strung out front to back with fertilizer discs that were a significant distance from the seed openers.

That may have worked great on flat, square fields. But in our hilly Pennsylvania fields, the starter fertilizer would end up in the row, burning the seed or ending up too far away to do any good.

An AC no-till planter wasn’t in the cards for me when I first started, so I farmed conventionally for a while. But when the John Deere 7000 conservation planters came out, I quickly switched over to no-till — well, mostly no-till.

Those first few years, I would lightly disc to chop down corn stalks, which is something I would never consider now.

Doing away with discing is just one of many transitions I’ve gone through as a no-tiller. I’ve done a lot of experimenting, and there are a few products and practices…

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Martha Mintz

Contributing Editor

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