A Blueprint For Planting Success

Modifying or building your own planter can improve your no-till performance if you keep certain goals in mind.

To be a successful no-tiller, one must have a set of goals to achieve success.

Sometimes equipment currently available on the market can’t meet these goals, so we need to modify our equipment to do it. This has certainly been true for me throughout my farming, research and extension career.

When I build or modify equipment, I try to make sure I follow the goals below:

  • Optimum row spacing and 
  • Seed and starter placement
  • Reduced compaction and 
  • Residue management
  • Fertilizer efficiency and placement
  • Fertilizer sources and timing


Our goals are based on the ability to provide all of the plants the same opportunity to produce peak yields. One must try to meet all of these goals and not compromise any of them.

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As corn yields improve and hybrids are bred for higher populations, we need the ability to plant corn in narrower rows and at optimum populations across our fields.

Research we did locally in the late 1990s, and more recently at the University of Minnesota, verified a 7% to 10% yield response to growing corn in rows that are less than 30 inches. These potential yield increases can only be achieved consistently when we follow all of the aforementioned no-till planter success goals.

In the late 1990s, we set out to find a planter that could achieve all of our goals. At that time, we were accomplishing some goals, but were left with planters that were extremely heavy and drove on rows to be…

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Leverich jim

Jim Leverich

No-Till Farmer's Conservation Ag Operator Fellow for 2022, Jim Leverich is a no-till farmer near Sparta, Wis. His 1,000 acre-farm has been in his family since 1864 and no-tilled since 1984. An innovator and educator, Leverich has 35-plus years of no-till and on-farm research experience, and possesses a deep, practical understanding of what makes no-till work. For his contributions while at the University of Wisconsin Cooperative Extension Service, Leverich was named the No-Till Innovator of the Year (Research & Education category) in 2006. A talented presenter and writer, Leverich was a regular guest columnist for No-Till Farmer in 2011 when it earned the Gold Medal as the nation’s top newsletter from the American Society of Business Press Editors.

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