A ‘Closed-Loop’ Strip-Till System Streamlines Cropping, Dairy Operations

The benefits of water conservation, reduced tillage passes and nutrient cycling save strip-tiller Robert Boyle more than $500 per acre each year.

Pictured Above: DEPTH OF FIELD. Maintaining crop diversity, including strip-tilled sorghum, is essential on the 1,200-acre Boyle Farm operation in Coolidge, Ariz., to feed 2,800 head of cattle on the adjoining McClintock Dairy

Satisfying the appetites of a few thousand head of cattle is the linchpin of Boyle Farms and McClintock Dairy, both multimillion dollar operations near Coolidge, Ariz.

Starting with a 160-acre plot of land purchased in 1998, Robert Boyle gradually pieced together a checkerboard of 1,200 farmable acres to supplement the family’s established dairy farm. Boyle manages the family’s cropping operations and is co-partner in the dairy business.

While the two operations had always been intertwined, it wasn’t until the family recently consolidated the dairy business in Arizona, that increased crop production became more critical.

“We were raising all our heifers in California, and then they would come back to our operation when they were 2 years old,” Boyle says. “It was cheap to feed the animals out there, but when the drought hit, it got more expensive. We decided to bring them all home, but that broadened the farming operation because now I have 2,000 more mouths to feed than I used to.”

Boyle’s diverse crop rotation includes silage corn, sorghum, alfalfa and wheat — all of which are flood irrigated and grown to feed the milk cows and heifers. The need to increase crop production and field operation efficiencies prompted a profitable transition from conventional tillage to strip-till 3 years ago.

“Between the tillage savings, the…

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Jack Zemlicka

Jack Zemlicka was the Technology Editor for No-Till Farmer. His coverage included precision farming practices, products and trends, which can improve efficiency and productivity for no-till farmers.

He joined Lessiter Publications Ag Division in 2012 and also served as managing editor of Strip-Till Farmer.

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