Precision Tune-Up Pays Off with Big No-Till Dividends

Indiana no-tillers Nathan Lykins and Paul Ketner are using variable-rate planting and fertilizer applications to break through yield barriers.

NO-TILL TEAMWORK. A three-decade commitment to no-till practices and successful adoption of precision technology have greatly benefited no-tillers Paul Ketner (left) and Nathan Lykins, who no-till 1,400 acres of corn and soybeans on rolling terrain near Hope in central Indiana.

Rolling terrain, variable soil types and all-or-nothing precipitation events can bring a challenge for even the most seasoned no-tillers.

But Nathan Lykins and his father-in-law, Paul Ketner, have found that adopting precision technology and sticking with it is helping them write prescriptions for higher yields and improved nutrient-use efficiency at Hawclif Farms.

Last year, corn yields across their farm averaged 205 bushels an acre, and soybeans averaged 61 bushels.

Timely investments with agricultural consultants has improved their return on investment with precision technology even further as they try to work to improve yields without wasting inputs.

Handling the Rain

Lykins and Ketner raise corn and soybean on 1,400 acres near Hope, Ind. Ketner has worked with no-till practices since the early 1980s and operated one of the first no-till soybean planters in their area at the time — an Allis Chalmers unit he used to custom no-till soybeans behind wheat.

Lykins helped Ketner get his crops planted several years ago as he was dealing with lung cancer, and the two have been farming together ever since.

Lykins Lykins

SEALING THE DEAL. Hawclif Farms no-tills both corn and soybeans with a Kinze 3660 ASD 16/32 split-row planter with finger meters, leading no-till coulters, seed discs, Dawn Curvetine closing wheels and seed firmers. Paul

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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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