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What I've Learned From No-Tilling: Telling The World Why It Should No-Till An Easy Thing To Do

Preserving soil got southeast Iowa farmer Rodger Harrington into no-till, while being profitable kept him in it.

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NAME: Roger Harrington

LOCATION: Ollie, Iowa

YEARS OF NO-TILLING: 28

ACRES NO-TILLED: 1,200

CROPS NO-TILLED: Corn, Soybeans, Alfalfa

When people why I was the first farmer in our area of southeastern Iowa to start no-tilling 28 years ago, I answer that it was bred into me to control soil erosion any way I can — including extensive use of terraces and grass waterways. I couldn’t bear to see all that soil running into streams and rivers. I knew I had to do something to keep that from happening.

If they ask me why I’m still no-tilling, I can truthfully add that it has also proven over and over to be the most profitable way for me to farm. Here’s how:

1. With fewer hours required in the field, I’m able to no-till 1,200 acres with only part-time help at planting and harvest. If I were tilling, I would need at least one full-time employee.

And having more free hours, I’ve been able to manage a seed business for the past 25 years. Besides adding to the family income, my close association with major seed companies has been helpful in staying current with new crop genetics.

2. With no-till, fuel needs are much less. I spend more money on diesel to mow, rake, bale and move winter hay for my 90-head Angus/Maine-Anjou cow herd than I do to grow 1,200 acres of corn and soybeans.

3. No-tilling has improved production by 20% or more with little yield drag…

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Roger Harrington

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Ron Ross

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