Thursday, October 28, 2010

Why I NoTill

I could claim to be a great conservationist but the reason I notill is simple. I do it for dollars and cents.

Sure it is great to prevent erosion and build soil structure but how many people really care about anything more than making a living over 40-50 years?

For me, notill has to pay and it does. It costs so much less to plant a crop without separate tillage trips that the yields don't have to be as good to win economically. Still they come pretty close in most cases.

I remember working ground 13 times as a kid from disking stalks to plowing to disking, disking, disking, harrowing, planting, rotary hoeing about 3 times and cultivating about 3 times. We worked the ground to death. I saw the same thing in New Zealand this winter. They are beating their ground to death and notill is a whole new subject for them.

What prompted me to write this was an article in Ohio Farmer today from Tony Vyn from Purdue commenting that farmers should think twice before tilling this nice fall. I so much agree. Take a look, it is a good article.

If you have drainage problems and soil pH problems you have to address them for most economic benefit but tillage without a reason is a expensive recreational waste of money.

There are many fields that would pay to rip 10 or more inches but you can do that with a cover crop, smother weeds and improve the soil all at the same time. Tillage isn't for everybody. Is tillage for anybody? All the tillage I need is a double disk opener, some divited gauge wheel tires and spike closing wheels to plant my crop. I drag a chain behind it for about 1/100th of the cost of dad having me harrow the disked up field.

This in a nutshell is why I notill. Tomorrow I want to talk about Why I Inoculate my seed. I am warming up for my winter talks and you can help me fine tune them.

Ed

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