What I've Learned From No-Tilling: Rejuvenating Acres and Ramping Up Soil Productivity

No-till is just one component of the system Dan DeSutter is using to break up compaction, store water, increase organic matter and improve yields.

Pictured Above: EVOLVING SYSTEM. Dan DeSutter is always looking for ways to improve his cover-crop system. This spring he tried rolling/crimping his cereal rye cover crop and learned that the right time to terminate the cereal rye is when it’s pollinating. “If your radiator isn’t plugging up every 2-3 hours, then you’re probably out in the field too early,” he says

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NAME: Dan DeSutter

FARM: DeSutter Farms

LOCATION: Attica, Ind.


ACRES: 5,000

CROPS: Corn, soybeans, wheat

My dad gets the credit for taking the initial steps of reducing tillage on our farm, but I can probably take some credit for pushing us into a full no-till system. And I do mean system, because no-till is just the tiny tip of the very large iceberg that is our farm management strategy today.

Our first steps toward no-till and our current system were taken back in 1983 when my dad made the switch from conventional tillage to ridge tillage. I was still in high school at that point so I was on the sidelines, but I had a great seat for watching the operation change and grow, breaking out of the traditional farming mold.


Dan Desutter

I continued the mold-breaking tradition. My first year on the farm we attended a field day at Jim Kinsella’s farm. He was practicing no-till and it really struck me that we needed to eliminate tillage completely, too.

Up to that point we were using a Hiniker cultivator to create and…

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Martha Mintz

Contributing Editor

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