Adjusting Equipment, Adding Crops Improves No-Till Operation

Jordan and Katie Hancock have added variable-rate technology, cover crops, canola and strip-till to their no-till farm in southern Kentucky to control erosion, save inputs and increase profits.

NO-TILL IS A natural solution to stopping erosion and pumping up profits, but the Hancock family is looking to do better.

Located in Fulton, Ky., just a few miles north of the Tennessee border, Jordan and Katie Hancock are modifying equipment and using cover crops to curb erosion even further, while aiming to get the most out of every acre.

Managing Variability.

The Hancocks have a rotation that includes corn, wheat, double-cropped soybeans, and now some double-cropped canola. Of the 5,500 acres the Hancocks raise, everything is no-tilled save for 400-500 acres of habitually wet fields that are worked up so they’ll dry out in the spring.

Jordan notes that their oldest no-tilled field — continuously no-tilled for 36 years — is their best-performing field. He says it yields more consistently and usually 10-18% higher than the rest of the farm, although he notes it’s on one of their better soil types.

Since their acres are spread out over a large area, the Hancocks farm a total of 20-25 different soil types. While managing that many variables can be challenging, adopting variable-rate technology has made a big difference.

The Hancocks use SMS Advanced variable-rate technology, which has paid for itself in lime applications alone, Jordan says. Variable-rate planting — their first adoption of the technology — has reduced seed costs with no overlap, providing a return on investment in only one year.

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STRIP-TILL CONVERSION. Kentucky no-tiller Jordan Hancock is experimenting with strip-tilled corn and may even try strip-tilled canola. To

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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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