Greg Swartzmiller pays close attention to calcium and magnesium levels on his family’s northern Ohio no-till and strip-till farm soils.
“We feel that magnesium and calcium have a bigger role than a lot of people think,” Swartzmiller says. “We’re regularly watching our magnesium ratio and our calcium base saturation. We have to figure out how to unlock more of the nutrients in our soil.”
Terry O’Neel converted his 660-acre, corn-and-soybean farm to no-till in 2000 with skepticism. But the Friend, Neb., no-tiller — who also raises 9,000 pigs annually — is a firm believer in the management practice today.
“Our organic matter has increased from 1.8% to 3.0%. That’s a huge increase,” O’Neel says. “Our soil tilth has improved, and the water-holding capacity of soil has increased.
“It’s also reduced soil compaction and soil erosion, and we get crops in using less labor and equipment.”
O’Neel says yields have been maintained and, in some cases, improved with no-till.
If you’re looking for a crop rotation that requires little applied nitrogen for productive grain yields, Alan Sundermeier says wheat-cow peas-corn-rye-soybeans may be ideal.
“This needs little nitrogen added to the system for efficient and economical yield production,” the Wood County, Ohio, Extension educator says. “You can just look at the soil and see the difference in quality after just 4 years.”
University studies show inoculants on average add 2.5 bushels per acre when soybeans are rotated after 1 year…