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No-Till, Covers Provide Buffer For Higher Yields, Better Soils

Ohio no-tiller Jim Carter Jr. finds breaking from tillage and adding cereal rye and other covers improved corn and soybean yields, and greatly benefited his soils.

Jim Carter Jr. recalls when he was in high school and looking at soil tests taken from his father’s farm in North Baltimore, Ohio.

The tests revealed the farm’s organic matter was around 2.1% to 2.2%. Good levels, he was told, and he’d be lucky if they ever reached 2.5%.

Today on his farm, organic matter levels are at least 2.5% and reach as high as 4% — one of the many testaments to the benefits of integrating no-till and cover crops that he has experienced.

Easing Into No-Till.

Carter’s journey into no-till began 35 years ago, when his father purchased a John Deere 7000 MaxEmerge in 1979.

As they were setting it up in the driveway, they watched it plant corn right through the stone and gravel, Carter says. Fall plowing didn’t always get accomplished, so they decided to try planting the corn into no-tilled soybean ground, and it worked.

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It wasn’t until the late 1980s or early ’90s that they began continuously no-tilling corn into soybeans. But once they succeeded, they moved on to no-till wheat and corn.

Today, Carter and his father, Jim Sr., plant their 1,200 acres of corn, soybean and wheat with two Kinze no-till planters — a 3600 Series for corn and 1631 for soybeans and cover crops. Last year, he adapted the 3600 to plant corn in twin rows.

Carter runs his corn planter with Martin floating row cleaners and Copperhead Ag Furrow Cruiser spiked closing wheels, which he added last spring. The…

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Laura Barrera

Laura Barrera is the former managing editor of No-Till Farmer and Conservation Tillage Guide magazines. Prior to joining No-Till Farmer, she served as an assistant editor for a greenhouse publication. Barrera holds a B.A. in magazine journalism from Ball State University.

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