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A Well-Rounded Diet Of No-Till Topics

Record conference attendance for Des Moines producers great exchanges on high-powered issues like cover crops, fertility, equipment setups and soil biology

After days of cold weather engulfed the Corn Belt, Mother Nature relented and blessed the National No-Tillage Conference in Des Moines, Iowa, with warmer temperatures and great travel conditions.

The 18th annual event drew a record turnout for Des Moines — the fifth meeting for the city — of 789 no-tillers, consultants and ag manufacturers from the United States and Canada, as well as from Africa, China, Italy, Russia and the Ukraine.

The 4-day conference, which featured 20-plus general sessions, 15 no-till classrooms and 60 no-till roundtable discussions, attracted 328 first-time attendees.

Cover crops, fertility and equipment setups for no-till drew big crowds during the conference, as did discussions on strip-till, precision agriculture, alternative corn row widths and yield-boosting techniques.

No-Till’s Value

Stockton, Iowa, no-tiller Keith Schlapkohl told attendees that his effort to grow 100-bushel-per-acre soybeans and 300-bushel-per-acre corn requires keeping an open mind.

“Minds are like parachutes,” he says. “They work only when open.”

Since he began no-tilling, Schlapkohl says he has increased organic matter on his farm from less than 1% to 5% to 6%.

“I can build the soil even if it’s in continuous corn,” Schlapkohl says.

He does this by choosing girthy hybrids that reach up to 14 feet tall. The large amounts of biomass from these hybrids allow him to remove half of the residue.

But he urges no-tillers using hybrids 6 to 8 feet tall to “leave the residue there.”

Cover Crops Work

The ability to protect soil after harvest, suppress weeds and enhance…

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Dan Zinkland

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