Friday, January 15, 2010


What a great National NoTillage Conference in Des Moines! Record crowd, too!

Top presentations so far:
Keith Schlapkohl
Steve Groff
Dr. Ray Ward.

Keith explained his notill system, focusing on plant nutrition. He is putting down nutrients on both sides of the planter row and using some chemicals some farmers never heard of like calcium nitrate or aqua ammonia.

LuAnn and I have been to his farm several times and we always learn something. His base program is an application of gypsum every year and he also spreads the product for many farmers. He has built a soil profile like I have seen nowhere else. His soil calcium is high and his magnesium content is down to manageable levels. It is not that way on most of the farms I work with. This is a great advantage for him and the farmers willing to adjust their soils over time.

Steve has set the world on fire with Tillage Radish. Huge benefits are being seen by working these into the crop rotation has a cover crop. Using them as a cover crop, farmers are getting better yields by nutrient relocation, less weeds, less insect and disease pests and many other reasons. They really reduce compaction better than steel through ripping etc.

Steve has become a really good farmer presenter. So many farmers do great things with innovation on their farm but can't present it to a large group of farmers. The first time I spoke to 1000 peers it was quite daunting and scary but now I have become more comfortable with it and even helped several farmers do a good job presenting their work before others.

The conference was improved because so many of us know each other, share ideas and make our talks connect with each yet showing our strong points. It is really neat to see how this conference has developed over the years.

Dr. Ray gave a real nice and simple Power Point going over the the basics of soil fertility, soil and tissue sampling of the 17 known nutrients. Let's see if I can recite them:

C H O N P K Ca Mg S B Cu Zn Mn Cl Ni Mo. Hmm, missing one. Not bad for 6 in the morning after a busy week but you get my point. My consultant and farm friends will get a kick out of this.

Dr. Ray's Power Point locked up in the middle of the talk but he kept his cool. Marion Calmer and another farmer came to his aid but he never lost his cool and kept on talking. I have had that happen and it can really mess with your flow of information by getting you rattled.

I sat back proudly has I have taught this information for 10 years at the conference. Dr. Ray's was better because that is his job at Ward Laboratories, Kearney, Nebraska and it was put together really nice.

Then we went to the luncheon Friday and I had worked with with two of the three winners of the Responsible Nutrient Award! Allen Dean was one of them and he has been a close friend since I met him in the now defunct Ohio State LEAD program in 1992. Wow, almost twenty years ago!

Allen built a system of notill wheat and soybeans in far northwest Ohio like none I have seen. He is really good in the shop and has modfied about every machine he uses. He and Shelly stay at our house and we stay at their house. If we don't see each other for six months, one is calling the other to catch up. Now his brother Tony is working with him and they are doing a great job together.

This is what the NNTC is all about. NNTC has become a group of innovative farmers who know each other, yet humble, who help and share and spur each other on.

NNTC is the best think tank for my interest of notill farming. We are all out for net profit and use a system that is kind to our environment.

Soon it will be time to move on to the next big thing in our lives.

Ed Winkle


  1. I hope you all learned that John Deere makes the BEST no-till drill!

  2. You know there wasn't much said about one over another but how to make any work. Great Plains is a sponsor and many use it, musch interest in twin rows.

  3. Oh that was just a cheap shot. Our here everyone talks about hardware, mice, and slugs. There is not so much of a discussion of crop rotations.
    No-till is mostly a crime of opportunity here. When folks want to go hunting or to basketball tournaments they give me a call.
    I've had so frustrating no-till discussions lately. I'm just going to send them to talk to you. Any good pheasant hunting in Iowa?

  4. Someone told about all their pheasants, can't remember the place.

    One farmer mentioned slugs in his radishes after he applied manure to it. ONE farmer.

    You get your soils balanced and stick with continuous notill as much as possible and lots of problems disapppear!