Water Management

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

ARTICLES

Sustaining Success Through Superior Soil

For Waco, Neb. no-tiller Scott Gonnerman, less is more when it comes to fertilizer, insecticide and residue disturbance, setting the framework for generations to come on his family-run operation.
Innovation can take many forms in agriculture. For Waco, Neb., no-tiller Scott Gonnerman, simplicity and tradition are his chosen pathways to progress on his 250-acre operation.
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What I've Learned From No-Tilling: Controlling Water Means Reducing Risk and Pushing Profits

Irrigation and building soil health keeps Darren Grogan’s crops in the water ‘Goldilocks’ zone for maximum production.
No-till has resulted in our area having what I would venture to say are some of the strongest capitalized farms in the country. In fact, no-till is one of the only reasons we have farming in the area at all.
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Surviving Pigweed Death Struggle with No-Tilling and Cover Crops

On the verge of bankruptcy from herbicide-resistant weeds, Adam and Seth Chappell discovered they could control weeds and slash inputs by embracing conservation practices.
Back in 2009, Adam Chappell was at the end of his rope. Trying to control pigweeds on the 9,000-acre farm he shares with his brother, Seth, in Cotton Plant, Ark., was a constant fight. They were making 15 trips across the field in per growing season with sprayers and various tillage equipment, spending anywhere from $100-$200 an acre on weed control.
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No-Till Practices Fix Land, Labor and Profitability

Kansas grower Roger Black says quitting the plow for no-till improved his soils, allowed expansion with adding machinery and bolstered his custom enterprise income.
When Roger Black switched to no-tilling in south-central Kansas more than two decades ago, he was searching for ways to reduce erosion in his silty-loam bottomland fields, as well as reduce fuel and labor costs.
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What ‘Corporate No-Till’ Could Mean for Your Bottom Line

Enterprising no-tillers could pocket extra cash, efficiencies by working with large corporations embracing sustainable ag to please customers.
The movement underway with large agribusinesses wanting to connect their sustainability programs more closely with their suppliers could mean some new advantages and opportunities for market-savvy no-tillers.
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Frank Comments

If Lawmakers Were to Say ‘Yes,’ Your History with No-Till, Cover Crops and Rotations Could Slice Insurance Costs by $4.50 Per Acre

Passage of a unique concept that got Congressional consideration during the writing of the 2018 Farm Bill could put more dollars in the pockets of no-tillers. It’s an idea that farmers who use no-till, cover crops and conservation-minded crop rotations to protect the soil should be rewarded with an equivalent of auto insurance’s “good driver discount” when it comes to paying crop insurance premiums.
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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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