Many of you are veteran no-tillers — and if you’re lucky, you might have some neighbors who are also no-tilling. There’s always some comfort in familiarity.
But some farmers don’t have it that easy, and you can count Doug Manning among them. The Kalispell, Mont., grower, who raises wheat, barley, peas and canola, decided to convert his farm to no-till last year — even though the practice isn’t common in his area.
Some of the conversations he’s had with farmers and others have been supportive, and some not.
“Generational differences regarding the appearance of crops, the management of residue, taking the ‘sport’ out of farming by reducing the number of hours in the seat of a tractor, and doubt about whether anything new can work — as well as the old — have led to many conversations,” says Manning, who stood out ever more by buying a Cross Slot drill from overseas. “Some conversations have been productive and thoughtful.”
In an effort to help beginning no-tillers find success with the practice, we’ve created a No-Till 101 section on our website. Along with informational articles and videos about the basics of successful no-tilling, No-Till 101 includes a regular blog post by Manning as he shares the ups and downs of his journey to adopting no-till.
You can find Doug’s posts by clicking here. Feel free to ask questions or offer some feedback on his operation!
Further south, another farmer determined to make no-till work is Marion Snell, who raises winter wheat and grain sorghum in the Southern High Plains and Panhandle regions of Texas. Snell is also seeding cover-crop mixes to rebuild soil organic matter lost during decades of cotton farming.
After a couple of setbacks, he switched to no-till for good in 2011 after finding pass after pass with tillage equipment on his wind-blown fields still wasn’t enough to produce a cotton crop. Blowing sand would burn and decimate cotton seedlings.
“If you’re going to build the soil on the Southern High Plains there’s no room for ‘can’t’ in your vocabulary,” Marion tells our writer, Jim Steiert, in this week’s Dryland No-Tiller feature story. “You have to believe it’s a can-do deal and it’s going to take longer than 1 or 2 years.”
Snell’s wife, Joy, notes that a group of area farmers now meets monthly in Lamesa to talk no-till — sort of a ‘no-tillers anonymous,’ since the practice isn’t widespread in the region. If you’re interested in possibly joining the group, drop me an e-mail and I can put you in touch with Marion.
Another option you have for communicating with other no-tillers out there, from a variety of different areas, is through our Farmers Forum on our website.
Whether it’s through videos, meetings, forums or articles, Dryland No-Tiller is committed to helping you no-till better.