What I've Learned From No-Tilling: Intensive Nutrient Management Boosts Profits

Nebraska no-tiller John Niemeyer says modifying his fertilizer delivery system, improving pH and using compost manure has transformed no-till corn into his most profitable crop

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NAME: John Niemeyer

LOCATION: Cortland, Neb.

YEARS IN NO-TILLING: 14

ACRES NO-TILLED: 1,500 (500 Irrigated); Custom farms 500 acres.

CROPS NO-TILLED: Corn, Soybeans, Wheat

One of my first jobs out of college after I received a degree in business from the University of North Dakota was a fortunate choice. During the several years I worked for a professional consulting agronomist, I had the opportunity to see a lot of different crop-production systems throughout eastern Nebraska, western Iowa and northeastern Kansas.

It was a tremendous learning experience. I was able to earn the credits to qualify as a Certified Crop Adviser. I maintain my certification through continuing education programs like the National No-Tillage Conference.

Getting a firsthand look at what was working for farmer clients and what was not paid off later. What I learned about soil fertility, weed and pest control and tillage prepared me for many new challenges I would face when I went full-time farming in 1998.

No-till stood out as a better alternative to aggressively working the soil, especially on highly erodible fields common to southeastern Nebraska. So it was not a difficult choice to go continuous no-till from the start.

Hilly And Dry

When my dad retired, I was able to take over management of the family farm, as well as rent an additional half-section nearby. We’re located in the Lower Big Blue Natural Resources District, one of Nebraska’s 24 districts.

Our fields range from 0% to 8% slopes, most of them in…

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Ron Ross

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