Bending Equipment, Agronomics To Fit His Needs Pays

South Dakota no-tiller Terry Huss modifies new equipment to fit his dry conditions and goes against the trend by growing wheat with corn and soybeans.

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NAME: Terry Huss

LOCATION: Faulkton, S.D.



CROPS NO-TILLED: Corn, soybeans, wheat

It doesn’t seem possible that I’ve been no-tilling for 30 years. I don’t know if you would call me a pioneer, but no-till was almost unheard of in north central South Dakota in 1979.

We were predominantly a wheat-growing area, trying to stretch our average 18 inches of precipitation over a short-season crop. I went through a steep no-till learning curve, with limited equipment and few crop protection chemicals.

What a difference today. No-till has grown here to where it’s the norm, rather than an exception. We have a choice of precision no-till planters and drills from several major manufacturers. New seed genetics and broad-spectrum pest control products give season-long protection.

As a result, no-till soybean and corn rotations have replaced a lot of wheat-fallow acres. In recent years, however, a lot of us have shifted back to wheat because we’ve learned how to get higher, more profitable yields. And, when I dropped out of wheat, I saw corn yields decline.

A more diverse rotation improves soil quality and water retention. And wheat stubble is a perfect place to no-till corn.

You are probably not going to save money in all aspects of your operation by no-tilling. At least I don’t. No-till can be more expensive in some cases. Your gain comes through higher yields.

For example, I have gradually increased plant populations to around 32,000 in the 20-inch rows…

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Ross ron

Ron Ross

Ron Ross pioneered the “What I’ve Learned from No-Tilling” series that has appeared in every issue of No-Till Farmer since August of 2002. He authored more than 100 of these articles.

A graduate of South Dakota State University’s agricultural journalism program, Ross spent most of his career as a writer and editor.

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