Making No-Till Work with Continuous Corn and Manure

Despite an abundance of residue and 3 million gallons of liquid cattle manure to inject, the Meiers are seeing success with no-till and learning how to add cover crops to the system.

Huey Meier admits that before committing to no-till, he couldn’t have cared less about growing corn.

Running a cattle operation of about 1,100 head in Dakota, Ill., the first thing Huey had his son, Matthew, take over when he returned from college in 2002 was the farm’s 500-plus acres of continuous corn.

Matthew became interested in no-till after seeing a YouTube video that showed water running off a conventionally tilled field, while a no-till field next to it had no runoff. He says their area misses a lot of rains and he wanted to increase their soil’s water infiltration. 

So Huey attended the National No-Tillage Conference in Cincinnati in January 2015 to learn more about the practice and returned with a determination to make no-till — and cover crops — work.

“It’s like I went through a religious revival or something,” he says. “Now it’s all about the soil health.” 

Setup Adjustments

The Meiers dove into no-till 100% that spring. Matthew planted the corn with a used White planter they refurbished.

That first year they ran it with Yetter row cleaners and rubber closing wheels. While they were satisfied with the row cleaners, Matthew says the rubber closing wheels struggled to close the seed trench in some spots. A friend of his who no-tills uses Schlagels on his planter, so Matthew decided to try them next.

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TRIAL AND ERROR. Huey Meier examines a field seeded with annual ryegrass and crimson clover in 2015. While Huey and his son, Matthew, didn’t

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Laura Barrera

Laura Barrera is the former managing editor of No-Till Farmer and Conservation Tillage Guide magazines. Prior to joining No-Till Farmer, she served as an assistant editor for a greenhouse publication. Barrera holds a B.A. in magazine journalism from Ball State University.

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