Longtime No-Tiller Experiments with Flown-on Cover Crops

Oats and radishes provide excellent results as no-tiller Randy DeSutter experiments with covers on 120 acres post-harvest corn and soybeans.

Pictured Above: NO-TILL SUCCESS. Randy DeSutter uses his John Deere 1790 16/32 split-row planter for 15-inch row soybeans. He knows the 15-inch rows help not only to leave a tighter canopy for weed suppression, but also protect against erosion, which is imperative for his hilly acres

Having no-tilled for over 25 years, Illinois grower Randy DeSutter knows the benefits of nutrient replenishment, decreased soil erosion and lower machinery costs associated with his farming practices. He simply uses his local Henry County corn and soybean yield averages to gauge his success.

“I always compare my yields to the county averages. Last year we were about 10 bushels better on soybeans and 25-30 bushels better on corn than the county average. That’s what I use my yardstick against,” says DeSutter, of Woodhull.

The 2016 averages in Henry County were 208 bushels per acre for corn and 61 bushels for soybeans.

Prompted by the 1985 Farm Bill that required farmers with highly erodible land to have a conservation plan, DeSutter saw no yield drop after adopting no-till in those initially targeted erodible lands, so it convinced him to go 100% no-till soon after.

Between all of the family members, including his brothers Jim and Mike, son Matthew and nephew Drew, the DeSutters manage 5,600 acres of 50/50 soybeans and corn.

Experimenting with Covers 

Last fall the Illinois Corn Growers Association was offering financial incentives to seed cover crops, a program with a stated goal of helping farmers reduce nitrate (N) losses by 15%…

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Mark mcneely1

Mark McNeely

Mark McNeely is the former managing editor of No-Till Farmer and Conservation Tillage Guide magazines. His previous experience includes 25 years in industrial engine journalism and marketing. Mark holds an M.A. in journalism from the University of Wisconsin.

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