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What I've Learned From No-Tilling: Taking 10 Major Steps To Maximize Nutrient Power

The Lampe brothers use intensive management to get the most from commercial fertilizer and swine manure for their 1,800 acre strip-till operation.

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NAME: Ron Lampe

LOCATION: Havelock, Iowa

YEARS NO-TILLING: 21

ACRES NO-TILLED: 1,800 (Farms and manages hog finishing facilities with brother, Tom)

CROPS NO-TILLED: Corn, soybeans

Change is the only thing that stays the same in our no-till operation. That old saying describes our strip-till system perfectly.

When my brother Tom and I started no-tilling in 1988, our goal was to stop erosion on highly erodible land. Today, we strip-till continuous corn on about three-fifths of our 1,800 acres, much of it heavy black soils. The remainder is in soybeans. We’ve taken care of the erosion challenge while realizing a whole list of soil-quality benefits.

Our goal has always been to seek ways to do a better job of farming without using more chemical fertilizer or other inputs than are needed and to improve soil quality as we go. On the other hand, we’re not reluctant to spend money up front to test new technologies or equipment designs that might enhance our productivity.

We’re seeing good results from a “home-built” strip-till system, composted swine manure, biological seed inoculants and pelletized gypsum, as examples.

I’m insistent that every trip over the field brings technology that is critical to our farming goals. Now, I don’t get the mind-numbing feeling I used to get going back and forth with a field cultivator or disc, with no focus on what it was contributing. This emphasis is paying off.

Strip-tilling has noticeably boosted organic matter content and the soil is overall more porous…

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Ron Ross

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