Q: What Was the Biggest 'Teachable Moment' that Convinced You to Start No-Tilling Your Farm Ground?

A: One night, when I was tilling ground, I quit around 2 a.m. and woke up with the pickup truck still running in the driveway and I didn’t remember driving home. After that I knew something had to change. With no-till I could plant all day, quit by dark and get a good night’s sleep.

— Mike Jasper, Sawyer, Mich.

A: The first signs were the droughts of 1980 and 1983, when no-tilled corn was making 100 bushels plus per acre and conventional made only 30-60 bushels per acre. Second was when our diesel fuel salesman noticed how much less fuel was used and wanted to know who was supplying our fuel. We told him about no-till. He said that will never work.

— Harold Kallal, Jerseyville, Ill.

A: We’ve always used cover crops after wheat as long as I can remember. We had been no-tilling our wheat and soybeans for some time and our practice was to chisel the cover after wheat, work it down and level it, then plant in a stale seedbed next spring. 

One year, 15 years ago, it was so dry that we couldn’t pull a chisel through it. I rented a vertical-tillage disc and worked it 4-5 inches deep. I planted into that next spring and it worked fine. The following year I only ran the disc a couple inches deep and it still worked fine the following spring. It was at that point that I realized that tillage ahead of corn may be…

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