Decade of No-Till, Manure Slows Erosion, Boosts Soil Biology

With nearly 10 years of no-tilling under his belt, Wayne Brunsman is focused on using cover crops to take soil health and crop production on his Iowa farm to the next level.

Some no-tillers ease into continuous no-till and transition their whole farm to the new system over a few years.

But Wayne Brunsman was so pleased with how his first year of no-till went that he decided to commit to the system 100% the following season. This year marks his 10th season of no-till.

With the initial challenges out of the way, Brunsman sees less erosion, better water infiltration and weed suppression, along with more consistent yields. The timesavings also lets him work at the Delaware County Soil and Water Conservation District while still maintaining his farm near New Vienna, Iowa.

Early Lessons. Brunsman tried no-till in 2005 by having a friend who was no-tilling plant corn into 20 acres of alfalfa. With some fields ranging in B to C slopes, he tried contours for a couple years, but preferred to find something that would fit a straight row system to make spraying and sidedressing more convenient for custom applicators.

“I thought, ‘Well, another option is no-till. If it can get more water in the ground, maybe you can control the erosion that way,’” Brunsman says.

After seeing how well the no-tilled corn worked, he purchased a 6-row John Deere 7200 planter from a long-time no-tiller and began no-tilling all of his crops the following year. Today, Brunsman no-tills 150 acres of corn, 100 acres of soybeans and about 25 acres of hay.

Initially, Brunsman encountered a few hiccups as he learned what his farm could handle at this early stage.

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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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