While some controversy continues over whether no-till can work well in the cold, wet climate of the northern Corn Belt, it’s a sound practice in most U.S. regions.
A report published recently found no-till had greater yields than conventional tillage in the South and West. The two tillage systems had similar yields in the central U.S., while no-till typically produced lower yields in the northern U.S. and Canada.
No-till saw greater corn and soybean yields on moderate- to well-drained soils, but slightly lower yields on poorly drained soils. Corn and soybean yields tended to benefit more from crop rotation in no-till compared to a continuous one-crop system.
The challenges to no-till in northern climates shows the importance of strong hybrid stress emergence and reducing risk from cold, wet soils, says Paul Carter, agronomy sciences manager for Pioneer Hi-Bred and one of three authors of the report.
When selecting hybrids for northern growing zones, he advises no-tillers look at yield performance first, then examine high-residue suitability ratings.