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What I've Learned From No-Tilling: Weeding Out No-Till Challenges

North Carolina grower Jimmy Thomas uses a combination of no-till practices to tackle weeds, rocks and marginal soils.


Above photo: WEED AND SOW. North Carolina no-tiller Jimmy Thomas makes the second of three herbicide applications while planting corn. A tank mounted on the front of his tractor pumps Gramoxone to the spray nozzles fixed to the back of the planter.


By Jimmy Thomas

As interviewed by Martha Mintz

Check The Specs...

NAME: Jimmy Thomas

LOCATION: Timberlake, N.C.

YEARS NO-TILLING: 34

ACRES: 3,000

CROPS: Corn, Soybeans, Wheat, Tobacco and Hogs

Weeds were one of the first challenges we faced when my father made the switch to no-till.

Learning to manage weeds has been a critical part of our no-till success, and continues to be an important area for our management attention. And since weeds are so capable of change — especially with changing crops and systems — it’s a learning process that never stops, it seems.

Our first no-till crop was corn. It snowed a week after we planted, so we definitely got off to an interesting start. We pushed onward and spent 15 years no-tilling corn and soybeans, initially with an International 800 series corn planter, one of the first implements truly designed for no-till.

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Jimmy Thomas

When we stopped chisel plowing, deep-rooted perennial weeds including multiflora rose, sand briars (Carolina horsenettle) and trumpet creeper really took off. We had to tackle those deep-rooted, tough plants with a variety of products and be diligent to get them out of our system. It was quite a task because we didn’t have glyphosate yet and we certainly didn’t have glyphosate-tolerant…

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