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What I've Learned From No-Tilling: Continuing Education Helps Make Transition To No-Till Seamless

During a 3-year transition to twin-row silage corn, alfalfa, double-cropped wheat/soybeans and cover crops, these Pennsylvania no-tillers have seen steady yield increases and soil improvement.

Check The Specs...

NAME: Eugene Lapp (Lapp Brothers, LLC; farms with brother, Curtis)

LOCATION: Kinzers, Pa.

YEARS IN NO-TILLING: 4

ACRES NO-TILLED: 600

CROPS NO-TILLED: Silage, grain corn, alfalfa, wheat, soybeans and cover crops (oats, annual ryegrass, tillage radishes and cereal rye).

We live in an area of Lancaster County, Pa., where small dairy farms of 50 to 60 cows are common and fields are small. Many of the farms are Amish-owned, where real horses provide the power.

We count 20 landlords on the 600 acres we farm; 5-acre strips are not uncommon.

Our family has been out of the dairy business for years; we sold the cows in 1993. Instead, Lapp Brothers, LLC, now functions as a supplier of corn silage, alfalfa hay, haylage, straw and shelled corn to area dairymen. We also custom plant an additional 800 acres.

With our small fields, it’s hard to compete in the grain market, but silage corn actually proves to be a value-added crop. In one of our business agreements, we supply the barn, housing and all forages and high-moisture shelled corn to a 50-cow farmer, while he provides cows, labor and purchases any commercial feed supplements. We then split the milk checks.

WOULD NO-TILL WORK?

High yields and optimum feed digestibility are keys to sustaining our customer base, as well as getting top returns from the “partnered” herd. We were getting better-than-average yields with conventional tillage, so we were cautious as we considered the shift to continuous no-till 5 years ago.

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Ross_ron

Ron Ross

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