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No-Tiller Always Ready To Face Changing Conditions

Adjustments to seeding rates, downpressure and coulter depth within fields are necessary for Johnny Davis to no-till successfully in variable soil conditions.

 If there's one thing farming has proven to Johnny Davis, it’s that there is nothing constant. 

In fact, the variability of soils on the Port Royal, Va., no-tiller’s farm is symbolic of the never-ending adjustments Davis has made over the course of 4 decades.

Davis may find several different soil types in a field. He can go from sandy soils to darker, heavy soils, but he is 100% no-till on every one of the 2,000 acres he farms in the Rappahannock River bottoms.

He has about 1,000 acres of corn, 250 acres of early season soybeans and 800 acres of winter wheat. Davis no-tills double-crop soybeans behind winter wheat.

Vary Seed Rates

He may not have the most modern no-till planter. In fact, Davis’ John Deere MaxEmergePlus 12-row planter is quite simple with 13-wave, 1-inch coulters, no trashwhippers and steel closing wheels. But he has installed a variable-rate planting system that allows him the ability to plant up to six rates at one time.

“I can plant 20,000 seeds and go up to 25,000. When I’m on irrigated ground, I can plant up to 30,000, but when I get to the corners, I can back it down,” Davis says. “Where my sandy ground is, I only plant 20,000 seeds per acre. For example, I have one field that’s sandy on the end and by the time I get to the other end of the field, I push it up to 29,000 seeds per acre.”

While he could utilize mapping systems…

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Darrell Bruggink

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