Monday, February 7, 2011
Make NoTill Work
I was thinking this morning how I could help others make notill planting work. Notill is not a substitute, it is an astute way of saving soil and making money farming. It is not a church or religion but it sure pays to be religious in the right things to do.
Notill won't make wet ground drier. If you need drainage improvements, you need it whether you notill or conventional till. Drainage is drainage and most of the corn belt has wet soils. That is good because it gives water to the crop in the summer but it is not good when you are trying to plant. Drainage keeps a lot of farmers from planting their crop when it should be planted.
Notill will improve soil structure over the years and make the soil less subject to ponding in big rain events. But too much water is too much water and drainage tile and surface drainage helps keep the soil to a term called field capacity, the capacity of the soil to only hold the water a crop needs. Anything else is excess and needs to be removed.
The soil test report has a measure of measurable Hydrogen which is usually a water molecule. My fields are all zero on H but many have a number. They have too much water and probably not enough calicium to balance the soil.
Balanced soil fertility is huge in crop production but no substitute for drainage either. Notill will be most successful on your best soils that are adequately fertilized. Cover crops will improve soil structure and soil life activity but is not a substitute either. All these good practices work in harmony to make the best and most profitable crop a farmer can grow.
I have passion for notill. I just hope I can pass it on. I feel it is a key to the future success of farming and to our country.