Grid Sampling Saved Years Of No-Till From The Chisel Plow

Struggling fields returned to their yield-contest-winning potential once an Ohio no-tiller applied variable-rate lime and fertilizer.

 From his farm office lined with county yield awards, Roger Dobbins stands firm that no-till can pay even on his flat, poorly drained Cedarville, Ohio, fields. 

“People say no-till can’t yield, but I’ve proved them wrong,” he says. “I’ve been no-tilling for 25 years and have won the county soybean and corn yield contests more than 15 times. My 5-year average is more than 200 bushels for corn and we saw 80-bushel soybeans last year.

“There are still farmers around here that don’t believe in no-till, but we have some of the highest yields of anyone around here and they’re consistent.”

Flat fields, high rainfall totals and no-till could have led to worse results for Dobbins, but he was set to succeed from the beginning, thanks to a solid drainage system.

“My dad spent a lot of money on tile,” he explains. “We’re on 70-foot spacing with our tile lines. It’s a plus with no-till to have well-drained soil and a good tiling system. Around here, the subsoils aren’t well drained and sometimes the highest spots are the wettest spots.”

Grid Sampling Success 

The yield awards may say otherwise, but no-till hasn’t always been a walk in the park for Dobbins and his partner, Doug Swaim.

“We went through a period about 10 years ago where we weren’t getting the yields and there was a lot of weed competition, plus other issues,” Dobbins recalls. “Doug wanted to get out the chisel plow and start over.”

Instead, they decided to grid…

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