Friday, January 23, 2015

Your No-Till Maybe Better Than Scientific Plots

In the December 2014 issue of No-Till Farmer, they looked at a worldwide analysis of over 5,000 side-by-side, tillage-system observations found in 610 peer-revived studies. In this evaluation of studies conducted around the world, researchers at the University of California-Davis determined that no-till did not yield as well as corn grown under more intensive tillage practices.

That got me to wondering why successful no-till growers seem to obtain better results than the yields reported from numerous small-scale research studies conducted by university folks and some seed and fertilizer suppliers. To provide some answers, the No-Till Farmer editors asked a few university educators, consultants and no-till growers for their thoughts.

 If you’re like me, you’ll be amazed at how candid the responses were from these educators and growers.

1. Researchers are all over the board when it comes to defining reduced-tillage practices, which make comparisons extremely difficult. Terms such as no-till, reduced-till, mulch-till or conservation tillage are used very loosely, and many times the scientists don’t bother to explain how much or what kind of soil disturbance occurred.

2. Some small-scale plots measure only 10- by 30-feet to remove statistical and spatial inconsistencies. Yet, tractor and planter tire traffic can cover up to 40% of the area, and reduced traffic is among the items that makes no-till shine. Even when compaction occurs, the scientists don’t want to mess with a research study’s protocol.

 3. Small-scale plots don’t allow for the use of real-world-sized equipment. As an example, research done in an Illinois farm situation found plots with 1,000-foot row lengths had a corn yield difference of only 4 bushels per acre compared with a 29-bushel difference within 50-foot rows.

As Keith told me on the phone yesterday, don't forget we are dealing with at least 7 different major algorithms in farming and science is trying to isolate one and may not even do that well.

Don't give up what your doing.  I got my APH yields recently and wow we have been blessed and doing a good job.

I am never content with that though I give thanks.


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