Buerkle Farm

What I've Learned From No-Tilling: Covers, Continuous Cropping Advance No-Till Game

Dan Buerkle finds benefits of a continuous cropping system have ramped up soil health and made weed control more economical and effective.


Above Photo: WEED WATCH. More crop diversity with staggered planting dates means Dan Buerkle is more likely to get all his acres sprayed prior to planting. He’s also able to use more cost effective herbicides as he can target grassy weeds in his broadleaf crops and broadleaf weeds in his small grain crops.


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NAME: Dan and Lana Buerkle

FARM: B and B Farms

LOCATION: Plevna, Mont.

YEARS NO-TILLING: 10

ACRES: 2,200

CROPS: Winter wheat, spring wheat, safflower, peas, corn, canola and hay

Leaving fields in fallow, and heavily tilling to keep them that way, is a deeply ingrained tradition in the often-parched southeastern corner of Montana, where I farm with my wife of 41 years, Lana.

Moisture is scarce. We only get about 14 inches of rain per year, so people have long left fields to rest every other year, hoping to stockpile what little water seeped into their soils.

Buerkle Farms

Dan Buerkle

Tilling the soil to keep the moisture-grabbing weeds at bay actually had the opposite impact. In the hot summer sun, turning the soil allowed even more moisture to evaporate, which is part of why this tillage tradition was the first to go for us.

Hours spent keeping the earth black in summer were transferred to our 120-foot pull-type Top Air 1600 sprayer, as I started using a chemical fallow strategy and no-till planting. By cutting out tillage, I was actually successful at keeping more moisture in the soil. Not tilling also allowed me to address…

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Martha Mintz

Since 2011, Martha has authored the highly popular “What I’ve Learned About No-Till” series that has appeared in every issue of No-Till Farmer since August of 2002.


Growing up on a cattle ranch in southeastern Montana, Martha is a talented ag writer and photographer who lives with her family in Billings, Montana.

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