Sutton-Farm

Gaining Critical No-Till Insights with Thermal Imaging

Frustrated with inaccurate soil maps and inadequate imagery, no-tillers Dan and Brian Sutton developed their own solutions for precision farming.

In a lot of ways, Dan and Brian Sutton’s farm operation looks a lot like a typical no-tiller’s from the Upper Midwest. They no-till 1,300 acres of corn and soybeans, mostly on rented land, but they include some alfalfa and wheat to help feed a small herd of cows

They use cover crops — mostly cereal rye, annual ryegrass, radishes, and rape — and have been planting green for 4 years. The 100-acre home place that they own has been in the family since 1862, and the brothers are adamant about their stewardship, always seeking new ways to be more efficient and effective so as to leave the land better off than it was when they started farming.

“We don’t feel that we own the ground,” says Dan. “We’re simply the caretakers, as the previous generations have been, entrusted to pass it along to future generations.”

But that persistent search for a ‘better' way’ also led them to launch AirScout, a precision imagery company that invented Advanced Differential Vegetative Index (ADVI) imagery to improve nutrient strategies, develop better planting prescriptions and even guide harvest priorities on their Lowell, Ind., operation.

 

Sutton Farm Facts

Acres: 1,300, mostly rented land

Years in No-Till: 20

Years Planting Cover Crops: 7

Cash Crops: Corn, soybeans

Forage Crops: Alfalfa, wheat

Cover Crops: Annual Ryegrass, cereal rye, radishes, rape

Corn Planter: 16-row Kinze/30-inch rows

Planter Attachments: Row cleaners, closing wheels

No-Till Drill: 16-row Harvest International?

Latest Experiment: Enrolled 100 acres of alfalfa in organic production in…

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Julia-gerlach-web

Julia Gerlach

Julia Gerlach is managing editor of No-Till Farmer. She has a lengthy background in publishing and a longtime interest in gardening and mycology. She graduated with a B.A. in music and philosophy from Alverno College in Milwaukee, Wis.

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