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What I've Learned From No-Tilling: Second Chance at No-Till Proves Successful

Dale Holland jumped back into no-till after his father, counted among the earliest no-till adopters, had to give up the practice due to weeds.


Pictured Above: Dale and Jason Holland

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NAME: Dale Holland

LOCATION: Suffolk, Va.

YEARS NO-TILLING: 47

ACRES: 2,500

CROPS: Corn, soybeans, cotton, winter wheat and peanuts

WE HAVE A lot of eyes watching us when we farm these days. While we used to be surrounded by fellow farmers, now we’re farming basically in the suburbs of Suffolk, Va.

But our practices over the years have been just as novel to our fellow farmers as they have been to our more recent non-farming neighbors.

My father gave no-till a try back in 1969. It was unheard of back then. Nobody here was doing it and, honestly, I’m unsure where he even got the idea. We never had much for hired help on the farm, so his thought was it would cut down on labor and allow him to cover the acres on his own.

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PROTECTION AFTER PEANUTS. While there’s no getting around disturbing the soil with peanut production, Dale Holland has found he can quickly build soils back up by following the crop with wheat. The Suffolk, Va., no-tillers says wheat holds onto the ground and adds organic matter back into the soil.

He purchased a brand new John Deere planter and rigged it up with fluted coulters so he could try no-tilling corn. He planted a cereal rye cover crop the fall before and intended to no-till corn into it that spring.

It turned out to be a wet spring and the rye got very tall before he…

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Martha Mintz

Contributing Editor

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