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Switch to No-Till Saves Soil, Boosts Nutrient Efficiency

Ron Neises sees more even crop emergence and less time cleaning waterways after converting his south-central Kansas farm to no-till practices two decades ago.


Pictured Above: BETTER SOILS. Ron Neises (right) and his son, Ethan, no-till about 2,600 acres of corn, soybeans, wheat, alfalfa and milo in southern Kansas, making the switch from a conventional system more than 20 years ago

While the weather in Kansas can be very fickle, Ron Neises has found switching to no-till practices 20 years ago has brought a calming influence, of sorts, to the 2,600 acres he farms in Belle Plaine, Kan.

Ron and his father were raising continuous wheat and plowing most of their acreage until they started dabbling with no-till around 1990. In 1996, when the Freedom to Farm Act was approved and they could raise whatever crops they wanted, they stopped plowing and began rotating corn, soybeans and wheat.

Currently they’re no-tilling smaller acreages of milo and alfalfa and have tried seeding mung beans and sunflowers.

“As long as we were planting wheat, plowing was fine. But we just couldn’t make that work,” Ron says, noting they no-tilled corn and soybeans first before purchasing a no-till drill to seed wheat.

Taming Erosion

Ron, who farms with his son Ethan, says a major benefit of no-till has been a big reduction in erosion.

Their farm has a conservation plan and has always had waterways and terraces, but the loosened soils from tillage typically ended up in the waterways.

“Since we went to no-till we don’t clean waterways any more. We still must clean them where our neighbors are tilling, but not from my fields,” Ron says.

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John-dobberstein2

John Dobberstein

John Dobberstein is senior editor of No-Till Farmer magazine and the e-newsletter Dryland No-TillerHe previously covered agriculture for the Tulsa World and worked for daily newspapers in Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Joseph, Mich. He graduated with a B.A. in journalism and political science from Central Michigan University.

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