I just spent the last 2 days traveling through south-central and eastern Kansas visiting farms and it’s safe to say the lack of rain is on nearly every farmer’s mind.
Although the worst conditions are in western Kansas, below-average precipitation dating back to last fall has made cover crop establishment very difficult and it also put much of the state’s winter wheat crop in jeopardy. One no-tiller I visited Tuesday is being forced to chop wheat for feed because it’s needed for his livestock.
On the positive side, a few no-tillers also marveled at how quickly their wheat fields came back after some recent storms in the area that provided some rain, so there’s at least some hope they’ll harvest a crop.
Another common thread among the no-tillers I talked to is that no-till practices have helped their crops hold on longer during drought periods. Healthy soils are keeping more moisture in the soil profile, and keeping fields covered has reduced evaporation.
There isn’t much that can be done about the lack of rain, unstable markets or weak grain prices. The only thing you can control is how you manage your operation, and when it comes to droughts the way to fight that is through building a more resilient no-till system to protect what cropping potential is there.
It’s my hope that our feature article this week about longtime no-tiller Derek Axten, and Paul Jasa’s review of building resilient no-till systems, provides useful information to help you get through the drought.