Articles by Ron Ross

Rotary Harrow Makes Good No-Till Tool For Seeding Cover Crops

These machines have caught the eye of no-tillers because they only work the top inch or so of soil without causing major soil disturbance.
An unexpected Phillips rotary harrow was a good fit this year for Foundation Feeders, located near Spring Grove, Minn. Jim Holty, a partner with his brother Ron in the custom heifer raising service, won a year’s use of the harrow at the 2004 National No-Tillage Conference in Des Moines. Jim manages the agronomy side of the business while Ron concentrates on the livestock operation.
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What I've Learned From No-Tilling: Cash In With No-Till's "Opportunity Time"

No-till provides more time for off-farm work, to crop more acres, have more fun with the family or devote extra hours to other farm enterprises.
My first experience with no-tilling began back in 1978 when I conducted a study for my master’s thesis on planter performance with various tillage systems. I visited 150 producers and observed their planters being used in the field.
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Precision Manifold Boosts Fertilizer Efficiencies

The winner of an Exactrix precision fertilizer applicator at last winter’s National No-Tillage Conference put it to good use this year.
Some might consider Dan Peyton a “weekender” farmer, as he divides his time between no-tilling 300 acres of corn and soybeans and a full-time job at a nearby printing firm in Long Prairie, Minn.
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What I've Learned From No-Tilling: Longer No-Till Rotations Were The Answer

No-till offers greater yield advantages in dryer years because it provides about 2 inches of extra soil moisture at seeding time.
Over the years since my dad started no-tilling in 1978, we’ve had a lot to learn — and not much of a growing season to learn it in. On our extreme northern farm that is less than 30 miles south of the Canadian border, we’re lucky to get 90 to 110 frost-free days, creating a situation not unlike Siberia (our average January temperature is minus 5 degrees Fahrenheit). This year we even had snow on May 11.
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What I've Learned from No-Till: They Went Cold Turkey With No-Till

New no-tillers can count on making fewer trips across the field and spending less for less labor and fuel, but you’ll be devoting more time to management.
In the Mid-1980s, we switched from moldboard plowing to a conservation farming system of chisel plowing, discing and planting. It was the recommended soil saving system of the time, but we seemed to be stuck in place.
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What I've Learned from No-Tilling: Why It Pays To Boost Air And The Water-Holding Capacity In Your No-Tilled Soils

Fighting problems with surface soil compaction, this Ohio farmer was about to back away from no-tilling until he found a solution that has worked well for 15 years.
Just about every no-tiller I’ve ever met would agree that at some point you start to wonder if you were really smart to move away from the “safety” of conventional systems.
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What I've Learned From No-Tilling: No-Till Slashes Costs, Helps You Expand

After economics got this father-and-son team into no-till, they found many other benefits.
When you look at our operation today, it’s difficult to believe that my dad, Eugene Berry, was a big fan of moldboard plowing. In fact, I even bought a new tractor and plow myself as recently as 1985. We were still plowing corn stalks, chiseling and field cultivating soybean ground until 1990.
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What I've Learned From No-Tilling: No-Till And Cover Crops Stretch Both Ends Of The Growing Season

When vegetable processors saw no-till yields were consistent and harvesting conditions were better than in conventionally-tilled fields, they came around to this veteran no-tiller’s way of thinking.
We've been no-tilling for nearly 20 years, but the history of conservation on our vegetable farm goes back to the mid ’60s. That’s when we first walked away from the moldboard plow.
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What I've Learned From No-Tilling: Direct Seeding Has Dramatically Reduced Dependence On Herbicides

Thanks to diversified crop rotations and improved management strategies, no-tilling is paying off for this eastern Oregon rancher and his two sons.
When we started no-tilling 25 years ago, we really weren’t trying to solve a soil erosion problem. We hadn’t thought it through that far and we just wanted to stay competitive by reducing costs. And it took several years and dramatic changes in our cropping systems before we started to see the real long-term benefits of no-till (which we call direct seeding).
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