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No, No, No... ‘He Chisel Plowed My 30-Year No-Tilled Ground’

It may take 6 years to return this long-term no-tilled ground to the superior soil quality it enjoyed before this tillage fiasco took place.

In November of 2017, a long-time Corn Belt no-tiller came upon a shocking scene: One of his no-till fields was being chisel plowed by a misinformed tractor driver, working for a multi-thousand acre operator who thought the field was among some of his newly rented ground.

Before the no-tiller was able to put a stop to this disastrous tillage situation, 80 acres of a 100-acre field had been chisel plowed. For 30 years, this field had been no-tilled or strip-tilled to corn and soybeans. It had also been seeded 6 weeks earlier to a mixture of cover crops. 

Part of a 3,200-acre continuous no-till operation, these highly productive silt loam soils commanded a cash rent of $215 per acre, The field had a 10-year average of 210 bushels of corn per acre and 62 bushels per acre of soybeans. 

Since the veteran no-tiller asked to remain anonymous, we’re not identifying him or his location. But these facts are important, as other no-tillers or strip-tillers may someday be facing a similar situation. As you will read later, some no-till veterans and educators believe it may take as long as 6 years to remedy this unfortunate tillage mistake.

Bad, Bad Deal

After recovering from the initial shock, the veteran no-tiller wondered how to remedy the situation. With considerable no-till crop and cover crop residue remaining in the roughly tilled field, it was too late to correct the situation that fall. The following spring, the grower disced and field cultivated the 80 acres…

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Lessiter frank

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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