No-Till Puts Brothers In The Winning Zone

Using the Rawson zone-till system, precision agriculture and conservation planning earns Minnesota no-tillers recognition for their yields and environmental stewardship.

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NAME: Steve and Bill Bailey

LOCATION: Chatfield, Minn.



CROPS NO-TILLED: Corn, soybeans, alfalfa

Looking back, it seems like we did everything we could to make sure no-till wouldn’t work. But it fooled us.

That was 20 years ago, during a wet spring when weather pushed planting well beyond the recommended window.

Frustrated, we attached a no-till coulter onto a conventional six-row planter. We used that rig to plant directly into 10 acres of alfalfa sod. The rest of the corn ground was worked with a field cultivator and soil finisher, a typical conservation-till system at the time.

Because of the delayed planting, we also couldn’t make timely herbicide applications for optimum weed control.

We figured the no-till experiment had three strikes against it: too wet, too late, too much competition. Come fall, however, we couldn’t believe it when no-till corn shelled out 20 to 30 bushels per acre better across the field than conventionally tilled corn.

We farm about 1,350 acres — 800 corn, 250 soybeans and 300 alfalfa — in southeastern Minnesota. The topography varies. Many acres are classified as highly erodible, but most fields have less than 5% slope.

Roughly two-thirds of our corn acreage is in continuous no-till. Some of it has been continuous corn since we started no-tilling in 1990. After harvest, we run beefs cows on the continuous-corn stubble.


After that eye-opening no-till trial, we were determined to shift from the conventional-tillage system we…

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Ross ron

Ron Ross

Ron Ross pioneered the “What I’ve Learned from No-Tilling” series that has appeared in every issue of No-Till Farmer since August of 2002. He authored more than 100 of these articles.

A graduate of South Dakota State University’s agricultural journalism program, Ross spent most of his career as a writer and editor.

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