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“There was an old fence row that had never been tilled, at least in my lifetime. So we probed in that fence row and sure enough there was a fragipan, even though it had never been tilled and there was fescue and other stuff growing on it…ryegrass is the only plant that will penetrate the fragipan…” – Ralph Upton

Ralph Upton Jr. of Springerton, Illinois, says his family has been planting cover crops all of his life, even though that wasn’t necessarily the terminology used. But over time they’ve changed the way they use cover crops and understand the role they play in their no-till system much better.

In fall of 2019, Strip-Till Farmer managing editor Jack Zemlicka visited Ralph and captured a conversation between him and ag researcher John Pike. For this episode of the No-Till Farmer podcast, we’ll share their exchange, which delves into research Upton had done on his farm after a 1983 drought revealed that he had a plow pan layer about 6 inches deep in his soil profile that was preventing his crops from getting needed moisture.

Listen in as Upton and Pike discuss using ryegrass to break up a fragipan, fine-tuning nutrient management plans to increase profitability, higher nitrate loss after soybean compared to a fertilized corn crop, how planting later can help overcome yield penalties from a cover crop, and more.







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Intro Music: Adam Selzer - True North

Interlude Music: Alialujah Choir - Little Picture (Instrumental)