Water Management

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

ARTICLES

No-Tilling Makes Continuous Cropping Work in Dry Climate

Leaning on the expertise of local researchers, Carl Vandermolen has diversified his no-till rotation and found another level of soil health.
The Gallatin Valley is a bustling place. Snug in the shadow of towering Rocky Mountain peaks, the valley is home to Montana State University, the hip and thriving town of Bozeman and a diverse, often progressive community of farmers — ranging from container hydroponic growers of salad greens to large-scale commercial producers — that make it feel more like a California valley than one in Montana.
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What I've Learned From No-Tilling: No-tilling, Cover Crops Help Tame Troublesome Soils

Abused, heavy clay soils are now almost fluffy and far more productive thanks to careful management focused on improvement.
We went from farming white sugar sand to farming the heaviest of clay soils when my family moved our farming operation from Florida to Alabama in 1989. To say the move made farming a bit different would be a drastic understatement.
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Finding Success with No-Tilled Sugarbeets

Cooler soils, moisture retention, better emergence and more sugar content and tonnage are just some of the reasons Greg Schlemmer is going all-in on no-tilling sugarbeets.
It’s not uncommon to see farmers in Montana disc rip, plow, roll, level and ridge their fields to raise sugarbeets — even ridging a second time if wind or storms either flatten or wash away the ridges.
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[Podcast] Controlling Water to Reduce Risk and Push No-Till Profits

In this episode of the <em>No-Till Farmer</em> podcast, brought to you by Yetter Manufacturing, we're joined no-tiller Darren Grogan, who he shares how the family’s irrigation and drainage program helps them control their water supply. Darren will also discuss improvements his family made in precision technology that has improved nitrogen-use efficiency and increased yields.
In this episode of the No-Till Farmer podcast, brought to you by Yetter Manufacturing, we're joined no-tiller Darren Grogan, who he shares how the family’s irrigation and drainage program helps them control their water supply. Darren will also discuss improvements his family made in precision technology that has improved nitrogen-use efficiency and increased yields.
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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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