Articles by Ian Gronau

Rethinking ‘Conventional’ Wisdom Leads to Revelations, 100% No-Till

Parking the plow helped John Macauley cut five passes across the field, save on fuel and labor and maintain yields as he builds a more sustainable operation.
Some farmers dive headlong into changing their tillage practices. John Macauley, who farms 1,200 acres with his father, Jim, in Groveland, N.Y., is proof that transitioning to no-till can be done in steps.
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Healing the Soil Through No-Till, Focusing on Boosting Organic Matter

A combination of long-term no-till, cover crops, planting green and spreading manure brings organic matter levels from 2-4.8%.
An ancestor of the Leroy Bupp’s family likely started farming the land in Seven Valleys, Pa. Bupp currently farms on acres that were originally farmed around the time the 13 colonies declared independence from Britain. Of course, much has changed over the years.
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Mushroom Compost, No-Tilling Supercharge Soil Health Levels

For many farmers, rebuilding the level of organic matter in their soils is a process that can take many years, oftentimes only seeing small gains. But Kennett Square, Pa., no-tiller Jamie Hicks has seen the organic matter in some of his soils rocket from 1% to up to 5% in a relatively short period of time by spreading mushroom compost.
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Using Strip-Till to Cut Field Costs, Dial Back Nitrogen Rates

Minnesota farmers Nancy and Jerry Ackermann credit strip-till, split nitrogen applications and cover crops for helping them reach 200-bushel corn yields on 140 pounds of nitrogen.
Nancy and Jerry Ackermann have been strip-tilling corn and no-tilling soybeans and alfalfa on their 1,200-acre farm in southwest Minnesota for 15 years. Coming from conventional tillage practices, the transition began on a small 50-acre test plot.
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Cutting Expenses with No-Till Grain, Vegetables

Cory Atkins is experimenting with no-till, cover crops and precision technology on a variety of crops for higher profits and efficiency.
Cory Atkins is a rare example of a young, first generation commercial farmer in an aging and family-centric industry. Although he grew up on a hobby farm with a roadside market and was tutored by an uncle who farms, he has taken it upon himself to obtain a production agriculture degree and expand the acres under his management.
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Precise Nutrient, Cover Crop Use Cleans Up Chesapeake

Trey Hill shares what he’s learned from trying to reduce nitrogen leaching, managing inputs and battling slugs on his 10,000 no-till acres.
Although Trey Hill has been farming around 10,000 acres in Rock Hall, Md., his whole life, he’s quick to mention that he’s more a student than a teacher. It’s this instinct that leads him to perpetually tweak his nitrogen (N) management and cover-crop program, forever in search of more conservative and efficient techniques for the fourth generation family-run Harborview Farms.
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Field-by-Field Strip-Till Tweaks Improve Yields, Soil Health

Indiana strip-tiller Doug Davenport has spent 15 years experimenting with slight changes in fertilizer application, cover crops and equipment setups to get the most from his strip-till system.
Doug Davenport's 4,000-acre operation reinforces the idea that one size does not fit all for farming. The Kingman, Ind., strip-tiller has spent many years — and plans to spend many more — figuring out field-by-field the best management practices on his farm.
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