Water Management

Strategies for preserving or managing moisture in no-till systems, including tiles, cover crops, irrigation and other approaches.

ARTICLES

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Growth State Effects Damage During Drought

While some parts of the country fret about early-season rain events, in Missouri and parts west, corn is coming into the essential R1 stage, just as the weather is drying up. While no-till mitigates moisture concerns to some extent, this article from the University of Missouri shows what to expect if things go south.
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Study: Nitrogen Fixation In Leaves Could Alter Crop Management

The study, recently published in the journal Biology, investigated how bacteria in non-photosynthetic leaf cells of seed plants can naturally provide nitrogen to plants. Currently, inorganic nitrogen fertilizers, such as ammonia or nitrate, are commonly applied to soils, damaging soils, and causing nitrogen runoff that contaminates streams, rivers, and other water bodies.
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Farming the Drought with No-Till Flexibility

Veteran Kansas no-tiller farms around dry High Plains weather, seeking to eliminate summer fallow when possible and using conserved soil moisture to grow something on every acre throughout the season.
Farming 25 miles southeast of Dodge City in southwestern Kansas with limited irrigation, long-time no-tiller Lance Feikert says it’s difficult to set a rotation schedule and stick with it because of rainfall variability.
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IMAGE GALLERIES

Scenes from the Palouse

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.

No-Till Works Under Tough Conditions

What I’ve Learned from No-Tilling: Do More With Less!

 

PRODUCTS

NNTC16 Audio Presentations

Six Strategies to Manage Crop Production Risk on Poorly Drained Claypan Soils - Eddie Hoff - NNTC 2016 Presentation - MP3 Download

$19.95

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.

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NNTC16 Audio Presentations

Taking No-Till Further with Water Management, Positive Nutrient Practices - Mike Werling - NNTC 2016 Presentation - MP3 Download

$19.95

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.

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NNTC16 Audio Presentations

Enabling No-Till Yields to Increase with Drainage, Earthworms - Doral Kemper - NNTC 2016 Presentation - MP3 Download

$19.95

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.

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NNTC16 Audio Presentations

Using Edge-of-Field Water Monitoring to Improve No-Till Practices - Bob Barr and Mike Starkey - NNTC 2016 Presentation - MP3 Download

$19.95

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.

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NNTC16 Audio Presentations

Measuring Nutrient Loss in Edge-of-Field Surface and Tile Discharge - Kevin King - NNTC 2016 Presentation - MP3 Download

$19.95

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.

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NNTC16 Audio Presentations

Maintaining Soil Moisture and Avoiding Compaction with Controlled Traffic Farming - Steve Lanyon - NNTC 2016 Presentation - MP3 Download

$19.95

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.

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