NAME: Russ Zenner
LOCATION: Genesee, Idaho
YEARS NO-TILLING: 32 (100% since 2000)
ACRES NO-TILLED: 2,800
CROPS NO-TILLED: Winter wheat, spring wheat, durum, barley, spring peas, lentils, garbanzo beans, mustard and canola
When I'm asked what the primary differences are between no-tilling in the Palouse region of Idaho and Washington versus the Midwest, the discussion starts with our steep slopes.
In the Palouse, we farm some of the steepest slopes in the world. Some exceed 50%. This land is as challenging as it is beautiful.
It’s prone to erosion from wind, tillage and water in every cropping season. Historically, erosion has been severe.
When summer fallow was common in Latah County where I farm, the Soil Conservation Service (SCS) measured the average annual topsoil loss at 25 tons per acre. On some of the steepest land, erosion exceeded 200 tons per acre per year.
My wife, Kathy, and I were fortunate to be able to purchase the ground my grandfather, Pete Zenner, bought in 1935.
We now farm 2,800 acres, which has been in continuous direct-seeding (no-till) since 2000.
Our success with no-till has evolved through three key levels of achievement.