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Back in 2010, No-Till Farmer editor Frank Lessiter and his son, Mike, traveled to the Palouse area of eastern Washington to visit John Aeschliman, who’s been successfully no-tilling in the region for more than 40 years. Named one of the 25 No-Till Living Legends, no-till has allowed Aeschliman to successfully farm in an area that receives as little as 12 inches annual moisture and has slopes as steep as 60%.
Click on the articles below to learn more about Aeschliman’s operation.
Soils with poor internal drainage have unique challenges. Eddie Hoff, a 4th-generation central Missouri grower, outlines six management strategies he employs in his 3-year rotation of corn, soybeans and wheat, to manage risk on these challenging soils — including no-till farming, seeding nightcrawlers for deep rooting, cover cropping, splitting nitrogen applications, variable-rate seeding and selecting “water-use efficiency” hybrids to help put the odds in his favor. Hoff also talks about how poultry litter and intensive wheat management are the foundation of the farm’s crop production system.View
Mike Werling has been conservation farming for more than 30 years. In this time, the Decatur, Ind., farmer has adopted never-till, cover crops, waterways, water sediment and control basins, a two-stage ditch and drainage water management structures to further advance his conservation efforts. Werling shares his conservation journey and the practices that have markedly improved his soil tilth. In this presentation, he also provides information on studies and test plots he’s been involved with and share examples of practical application. Werling, who operates in the Maumee Watershed, explains his nutrient management practices and the positive effects they may have on Lake Erie’s water quality.View
In no-till systems, earthworms enjoy a synergistic relationship with corn roots. The earthworms subsist on decaying residue of the roots and the roots extend further when they can find earthworm burrows to go through. In this presentation, Doral Kemper discusses how this relationship is enhanced when tile drainage prevents the water table from rising and eliminating aerated portions of the soil the worms need to survive and grow. The retired soil researcher from USDA-ARS shares how drainage and earthworms aid in the extension of roots, which enables crops to access more water in the late — and often dry — portions of the growing season when they hit the critical grain-filling stage. Kemper also explains how soil drainage to extend earthworm and root activity makes it one of the farmer’s best investments.View
Edge-of-field water monitoring is a critical component to identify solutions that will improve water quality coming from agriculture and to isolate other sources. Robert Barr, research scientist at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, discusses edge-of-field water quality monitoring methods and early results from a water monitoring project at no-tiller Mike Starkey’s farm in Hendricks County, Ind. Starkey joins Barr to talk about the continuing evolution of his conservation and management practices, and how conservation cropping systems that improve soil health work for him.View
In the poorly drained soils of the Eastern Corn Belt, tile drainage is a necessity rather than an option. However, nutrient loss through tile drainage is the focus of water quality issues in the Great Lakes and Gulf of Mexico. Kevin King, a research agricultural engineer with the USDA in Columbus, Ohio, shares research from 38 edge-of-field sites to identify the effects of different agricultural management practices on nutrient loss and provide insight on several options to keep nutrients in the soil and out of water.View
In the semi-arid climate of Victoria, Australia, Steve Lanyon relies on controlled traffic to save every inch of water for his 10,000-acre no-till operation. By keeping his equipment’s wheel traffic in the same place, there’s less compaction, allowing the soil to hold more moisture. In this presentation, Lanyon talks about how he implemented controlled traffic lanes on his farm and the equipment considerations that are necessary to making it work. He also talks about the benefits he’s seen from controlled traffic since adopting the system in 2002 and how it has paid off.View