Building Soils, Getting Over the Hump with No-Tilling

No-till practices, covers and better fertilizer management have been the right combination to return Linus Rothermich’s rain-soaked clay soils to productivity.

Pictured Above: PRECISION TOOL. Linus Rothermich purchased this Auliari ALR2304AM air cart to place fertilizer at planting for his no-tilled corn and soybeans, hitching it up to an 8-row Kinze 3110 planter. Rothermich says the openers on the cart “hardly leave a mark out there in the field,” a bonus in his highly erodible clay soils in central Missouri

SOME GROWERS measure their no-till success by crunching numbers on input formulas, poring over spreadsheets or deciphering complex soil health tests. 

But for Linus Rothermich — who pokes fun at himself with the label of “technically challenged” — what he can see with his eyes since shifting to no-till practices 8 years ago is proof enough. Pounding rainstorms pose big challenges to his highly erodible, high-clay soils in central Missouri. Yet soil tilth is improving and his corn and soybean yields are steadily climbing.

He also sees “way more earthworms” than he used to see many years ago when his family was working the ground. Eroded clay spots that used to be red dirt have gradually changed to various shades of brown. 

“We used to hardly ever get a stand of beans, or the beans would only get so tall because they didn’t hardly grow,” he says. “Now, they don’t look much different than the beans that are in better soil.

No-Till Takeaways

  • It’s always a good idea to leave test strips in your fields to evaluate the effectiveness of fertilizer treatments. 

  • If applicable in your climate, consider adding a fall…

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John dobberstein2

John Dobberstein

John Dobberstein is senior editor of No-Till Farmer magazine and the e-newsletter Dryland No-TillerHe previously covered agriculture for the Tulsa World and worked for daily newspapers in Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Joseph, Mich. He graduated with a B.A. in journalism and political science from Central Michigan University.

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