Turning a No-Till Dairy Operation Into a ‘Cash Cow’

Decades of no-till practices, cover crops and manure applications have helped no-till pioneer Franke Dijkstra and his family turn Brazil’s Frank’Anna Farm into a profitable, sustainable dairy farm.

More than 4 decades ago, Franke Dijkstra found himself struggling with serious wind and water erosion on his sandy, rocky soils, as he was running a grain and dairy operation in southern Brazil.

What was happening on his farm was really a microcosm of agricultural challenges developing across the region. During the 1970s, milling companies became established in the Ponta Grossa area and that encouraged the spread of soybean and wheat production.

Sandy soil, sloping terrain, excessive tillage and frequent downpours of rain caused erosion that became more and more severe each year in the 1950-70s. Terraces built on many farms for run-off control failed to solve the problem, and the rate of replanting was very high.

But with a little help from agronomists and researchers in the U.S., Dijkstra successfully converted his farm to no-till, and other innovative techniques with manure processing and crop rotation helped him develop an environmentally responsible and profitable farm operation.

Starting Out

Dijkstra was born in 1941 in Friesland, Netherlands, but in search of better opportunities, his father moved the family to the Brazilian state of Paraná, near the small city of Carambei. While speaking at the National No-Tillage Conference earlier this year in Cincinnati, Dijkstra showed photos of his father arriving in Rio de Janeiro in 1947 with 1 bull and 40 dairy cows.

Frank D

“With early planted corn and harvesting at higher moisture, this provides an extra 15-40 days for a second summer crop…”

Dijkstra started his own farm in 1961, raising dry…

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John dobberstein2

John Dobberstein

John Dobberstein is senior editor of No-Till Farmer magazine and the e-newsletter Dryland No-TillerHe previously covered agriculture for the Tulsa World and worked for daily newspapers in Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Joseph, Mich. He graduated with a B.A. in journalism and political science from Central Michigan University.

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