Conservation Keeping Growers Competitive on Heavy, Wet Soils

The Baileys are seeing yields comparable to their conventional tillage neighbors with no-till while protecting soil and saving on additional equipment expenses.

Pictured Above: PERFECTING THE PLANTER. Randy Bailey (right) and his son, Levi, swapped out no-till coulters for Yetter SharkTooth row cleaners, added Keeton seed firmers and are using Dawn Curvetine closing wheels (right photo) for their John Deere 1790. Randy says they’re often in tight, heavy soils, and the Curvetines do a good job of closing the seed trench up

GROWING UP on the family farm in Louisville, Ill., Randy Bailey thought the way to farm was to hire labor, have a lot of tractors, discs and rollers and work the land.

But in the 1980s, just after he graduated high school and took over the farm, the Farm Crisis hit and the equity on his land flipped upside down. After hearing retired University of Illinois agronomist Mike Plumer speak at a Farm Bureau meeting about no-till, he decided to give it a try.

“Mike showed an old A-C Planter, which was kind of primitive, and said ‘You don’t need to have the greatest planter, you can just plant,’” Randy recalls. “It caught my attention and we experimented with that.”

He did some no-till on and off throughout the ’80s and into the mid-90s until he met Randy McElroy, a technology development rep at Monsanto. McElroy wanted to develop a research site on Randy’s farm and advocated no-till.

In 1996, McElroy paid for Randy to attend the National No-Tillage Conference. With McElroy’s support and the knowledge he obtained at the conference, Randy decided to sell his tillage equipment and commit…

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Laura Barrera

Laura Barrera is the former managing editor of No-Till Farmer and Conservation Tillage Guide magazines. Prior to joining No-Till Farmer, she served as an assistant editor for a greenhouse publication. Barrera holds a B.A. in magazine journalism from Ball State University.

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