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“With precision farming, it’s up to no-tillers to manage the variability and fill in the missing pieces...”— Doug Harford, Mazon, Ill.
With long-term no-till, Lloyd Murdock says growers can increase organic matter levels to a point where soils are very difficult to compact. The University of Kentucky soil scientist urges no-tillers not to resort to rotational tillage after a few years when problems arise. He predicts a number of benefits for no-till that won’t happen for 12-15 years down the road.
If there’s a barometer to know how well you’re doing with no-till, Murdock says it’s being able to increase soil organic matter. Over 20 years of Kentucky studies have shown organic matter doubled in the top 2 inches of no-tilled soils.
For 7 years, Ray Rauenhorst successfully no-tilled corn under less than ideal conditions in his Easton, Minn., operation. He’s careful to keep a detailed list of what works and what doesn’t each year — all the way from pre-planting through post-harvest.
When strip-tilling wet soils, Rauenhorst moves the row cleaners out 1½-2 inches to work in drier soil.