Combating The Myths of No-Till

When it comes to change, myths overshadow reality and hold back growers from adopting new technology. Even after more than four decades of no-till, it's still common for folks to talk about, and be influenced by, unfounded clamis rather than successes.

Failure to Evaluate

Alan Mindermann finds most myths are based on what folks don't know or fully understand about no-tilling. The veteran no-tiller from Apage, Oklahoma, says the problem is that what many nonbelievers think is face, generallly turns out to be fiction.

University of Nebraska ag engineer Paul Jasa says the myths he hears about no-till run the gamut of subjects, from weeds to compaction, heavy residue, lower yields, insects, diseases and soil quality.  He's spent years of research disputing them.  

David Lobb says a major myth is that wind and soil erosion are major causes of degraded topsoil. Instead, the University of Manitoba soil scientist maintains the culprit is tillage erosion. Over time, extensive tillage pushes more soil down the slope than up the slope.

This results in extensive soil losses at the top and excessive soil accumulation at the bottom of the slope. 

Lob says research shows that more than 75% of soil loss at the top of slopes is caused by tillage erosion.  With 15% to 25% of fields classified as hilltops, moderate to severe erosion occurs after decades of tillage.

Another myth, he says, is that by switching to no-till, you will stop soil erosion and allow the topsil to immediately restore its productivity…

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Frank Lessiter

Frank Lessiter has served as editor of No-Till Farmer since the publication was launched in November of 1972. Raised on a six-generation Michigan Centennial Farm, he has spent his entire career in agricultural journalism. Lessiter is a dairy science graduate from Michigan State University.

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