What a week we had in St. Louis for the National No-Tillage Conference. We're trying to confirm that this 20th-anniversary event enjoyed all-time record attendance, likely surpassing the 900 level for the first time in the conference's history. (If you want to review highlights, visit our Twitter or Facebook pages.)
Among the many encouragements received from attendees on the quality of the speakers and information shared, I was struck by a number of individuals who said they were glad to see that the conference has evolved beyond just being a no-till conference.
While we had nearly 350 first-time attendees — another record — and likely had many farmers who were looking for tips and ideas to improve their basic no-till performance, many of our veteran no-tillers said they like the fact that this has become a "systems" conference. In other words, they said no-till is just one facet of being a better farmer. It's part of a "systems approach."
Just because you no-till doesn't mean you're doing everything right. It's one piece of the puzzle, but there are many other factors, such as cover crops, balanced soil fertility, drainage, cropping rotations and more that are important in becoming a good farmer.
Your goal moving forward ought not to be a better no-tiller, but to be a better farmer. As Gabe Brown, our keynote speaker from Bismarck, N.D., pointed out, don't be afraid to fail at something. Do your homework, ask questions and then try something new each year in the quest to improve your system.