Ever since 1962 when Harry Young planted his first no-till plot in Herndon, Ky., no-tillers have been pushing the envelope, always looking for a better way to farm. Over and over again, they’ve tweaked, poked and prodded their equipment, stripping parts off and welding other parts on, as regular planters at the time weren’t up to the job.
As a result of the collective efforts of a number of innovative and persistent farmers, engineers and researchers, no-till has saved time, labor, water and topsoil for farmers the world over.
And it hasn’t stopped. No-tillers continue to look for improvements, whether that be trying the latest OEM equipment or precision add-ons in hopes of creating the perfect stand or designing cropping systems to maximize solar efficiency and carbon capture or testing new ways to get ahead of weed pressure and reduce inputs.
Beaver Dam, Wis., no-tiller Charlie Hammer and his wife Nancy Kavazanjian are great examples of farmers who are always looking for a better way. In fact, we’ve written about their efforts several times, as they’re always trying new things. I had the opportunity to visit them recently as Hammer tested out a new closing system from Martin-Till and a Central Tire Inflation System from PTG, which is part of a larger effort to implement controlled traffic for a CSP enhancement.
In addition, I got to see the plans for a phosphorus reduction system they’re installing. You can read more about these particular efforts here.
I also recently got out to see Palmyra, Wis., no-tiller Tom Burlingham who explained how a couple of years ago he had modified his planter to deliver slug bait at planting. Slugs are one of his biggest crop pests and he says the metaldyhyde pellets do a good job of attracting and killing them.
The planter modification worked great and delivered the pellets along the row where the slugs would come across them on their way to feed on the crops, unfortunately it was a wet spring that year and the slug bait didn’t hold up long enough in the season to really provide effective control. But it was a really clever approach to a gnawing problem (pun intended) and who knows, it may lead to a more effective solution down the road.
Other examples of no-tiller ingenuity abound. For instance, Russell Hedrick has used Yetter stalk devastators as cover crop rollers, and Jason Mauck is designing chicken ‘tractors’ to manage weeds in place of using herbicides.
I imagine most no-tillers have stories like these about creative solutions you’ve come up with on your operations. Whether they worked or not, tell us about them in the comments section or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.