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A Fertile Place For No-Till Tips

More than 850 no-tillers and industry experts gathered in Indianapolis to share the latest techniques for better fertility, improved soil biology, cover cropping management and more.

Subzero temperatures greeted attendees at the 17th annual National No-Tillage Conference in Indianapolis Jan. 14 to 17, making everyone glad for a reason to leave the chores behind, stay indoors and learn.

A jam-packed schedule offered attendees plenty of chances to pick up tips, get the latest research and share their experiences. The 850-plus no-tillers — including more than 260 first-time attendees — rotated through 60 roundtable discussions, 15 no-till classrooms and 20 general session speakers ranging from successful no-tillers in the United States and beyond to industry and university specialists.

Focus On Fertilizer.

Soaring fertilizer costs in 2008 made managing no-till fertility a common-sense choice for numerous presentations. Placement, soil testing, variable-rate applications, sensor technology, reduced rates and more were offered as ways to dial in fertility needs and dial down expenses.

“If you place fertilizer in the soil near a growing plant, you get more benefit — period,” says Phil Needham, a consultant with Needham Ag Technologies in Calhoun, Ky. “Timing also is important. By the six-leaf stage, the plant has only taken up 20% of available nitrogen. We should be coming back with a second application after planting for greater efficiency.”

Uniformity of fertilizer distribution is key, Needham says. Swirl chambers and equal-length hoses can help improve distribution.

Attendees also were advised to get to know their fields.

“Create soil type and yield maps, and soil test. If you rent or just purchased land, be sure to talk to someone who can give you a history of…

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