No-Till and Precision ‘Scripting’ Improves Yields from Sandy Soils

Family’s collective inputs help improve soil health through cover crops, nutrient management and yield mapping in Wisconsin’s “Frac Sands” region.

Pictured Above: OPTIMIZING SEEDING. Jeff Lake (left) and his son Jake no-till 1,500 acres of sandy soils in northwestern Wisconsin. The Lakes use EFC Systems’ Profit Zone Manager tool to help them optimize variable corn seeding rates between 18,000 and 32,000 with their Case IH 1200 Early Riser 16-row planter

In an area of northwestern Wisconsin known for its teeming fracture sand mining industry, no-tiller Jeff Lake, his wife Kelly and son Jake are carving out a successful no-till operation on 1,500 acres of irregularly-shaped, contoured fields.

Despite the porous nature of their sandy loam/loamy sand soils, the Lakes are beginning to see improved soil organic matter and soil health with their switch to no-till practices.

Originally a dairy farm dating back to the late 1800s, Jake Lake represents the 6th generation on this family-owned farm. Jeff Lake splits ownership roughly in half with his brother Rick and wife Gloria. Jake Lake, at 20, recently joined his father full time, where he’s immersing himself in the precision and prescription aspects of the operation. 

Jeff’s daughter April, who works at the local Synergy Coop, also lends agronomic advice and helps out when needed. She’s also pursuing a degree in agronomics at UW-River Falls.

After exiting dairy operations in 1999, Jeff Lake would run a disc in the spring as his method of soil preparation prior to planting.

“Then, about 6-8 years ago, we decided we needed to go in a different direction with no-till. We weren’t getting the yields we wanted…

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Mark mcneely1

Mark McNeely

Mark McNeely is the former managing editor of No-Till Farmer and Conservation Tillage Guide magazines. His previous experience includes 25 years in industrial engine journalism and marketing. Mark holds an M.A. in journalism from the University of Wisconsin.

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