What I've Learned from No-Tilling: Refined Practices Could Lead to 300-Bushel Yields

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NAME: Keith Schlapkohl (KV Mud Creek Inc.)

LOCATION: Stockton, Iowa


YEARS NO-TILLING: 10 (5 years in continuous corn)

CROPS NO-TILLED: Corn, soybeans

We’ve heard about contest yields that sounded unbelievable — and for most of us were generally unachievable. Do you recall when Herman Warsaw and Francis Childs first reported harvests in excess of 300 and 400 bushels per acre with continuous corn? More recently, NCGA-winning yields of 300-plus bushels per acre are reported nearly every year. Still, most corn growers probably don’t believe these super yields are possible across an entire farm.

Maybe not. But I encourage farmers with reasonably good soils who approach 200 bushels per acre to believe that they’re only two-thirds of the way to where they might — and probably should — be.

I base my comments on results from my 1,000-acre farm just west of Davenport, Iowa. We’re averaging farmwide yields of about 235 bushels per acre of continuous no-till corn, and the yield monitor nudged above 300 in some spots in past years.

My goal is to “show by doing” that consistent, 300-bushel-per-acre average yields are economically feasible and within reach soon. Our county average runs about 180 bushels per acre. Instead of buying or renting $6,000-per-acre land to expand pro-

duction, I’m convinced a more profitable answer lies in the way we manage the soil we already have.

I use a mix of cropping systems. We’ve no-tilled continuous corn the last 5 years on our best…

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Keith Schlapkohl

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