Our 23rd annual National No-Tillage Conference has come and gone, and as a second-time attendee I’m still overwhelmed by the amount of no-till research, insights and information that were presented last week.
From Jill Clapperton’s explanation of the rhizosphere — which is the root and everything that goes on around it — to Marion Calmer’s combine-setting tips for managing residue, to the numerous personal experiences and lessons shared by long-time no-tillers, there’s certainly a lot to take in over those 4 days.
While we’ll be sharing plenty of that information in the coming months, here are a few quick no-till tips we gleaned from this year’s event.
1. Manage True Armyworms When Necessary
Dealing with true armyworms? Skip the seed treatments because they don’t work, John Tooker says — adding that preventive insecticides are often ineffective. Instead, the Penn State entomologist recommends growers manage the pest by scouting for them and using a rescue spray of insecticide when necessary. Intrepid 2F is a nice option, he says.
2. Organic Matter Lessens Compaction
In the 1980s, South Dakota no-tiller Bryan Jorgensen had less than 1% soil organic matter. But thanks to no-till, that’s grown to 4.5%. He says high organic matter — at least 3% —mitigates a lot of compaction on his fields, a benefit he didn’t expect.
3. Be Precise, Even on Small Farms
If you think being a small farmer means you can’t benefit from precision technology, think again. Precision specialist P.J. McCullough says a 500-acre no-tiller can cut double planting by 10% and save close to $7,000 in seed and planting costs by adding GPS to his or her operation.
4. Avoid Anhydrous, Help Earthworms
Want a better earthworm population? Avoid using anhydrous ammonia. Clapperton, a world-renowned soil health scientist and co-founder of Rhizoterra Inc., says, “If it’ll burn you, it’ll burn them.” The good news is other forms of nitrogen, such as 28% liquid N, are not harmful to earthworms.
5. The Cold Won’t Kill Them
Corn rootworm eggs, that is. Christian Krupke, entomologist with Purdue University, told attendees the eggs are nearly impervious to cold soils and will experience little to no mortality from brutal temperature drops. What is effective is rotating to a non-corn crop — doing so will reduce pressure on rootworm populations by 50% if fields are only in Bt corn 1 out of every 2 years.
To check out more tips gleaned from the conference, visit our National No-Tillage Conference Facebook page, No-Till Farmer Facebook page or our Twitter account. You can also see what other people are saying about the conference by searching the #NNTC hashtag.
Did you attend the conference? If so, what was the best piece of information you took away from it and how do you plan to use it? Tell us below in a comment or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.