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Record-Breaking No-Till Conference

01/18/2013 @ 11:54am

Last week, I went to the 21st Annual National No-Till Conference. With a record-breaking attendance of 1,153 farmers, it is clear that no-till farming is growing stronger. Here are a few of the hot topics that were covered at this year’s conference, with more in-depth articles to come in Successful Farming magazine.

Soil Health
Again and again no-till believers preached the importance of having healthy soil. While this is a complex topic, the gist of it is simple. According to Dan Towery from Ag Conservation Solutions, to improve your soil health you need to minimize soil disturbance, have a permanent soil cover, and use a diverse crop rotation and/or cover crops.

Cover Crops
A little bit of sunn hemp, a lot of rye, and a plethora of results. Farmers and soil specialists shared how the use of cover crops in a no-till system can help improve soil quality, reduce erosion, fight pests, conserve soil moisture, recycle nutrients, and ultimately give you a better yield.

Managing Residue
A good future yield for no-tillers starts with the current crop’s harvest. No-till farmers have to manage residue at harvest to control variability for the next planting season. Residue needs to be spread evenly to help ensure uniform seed placement and equal distribution of nutrients.

Extreme Weather
Climate models predict we will continue to have less rain during the growing season but more days with heavy rain. Because no-till fields are better prepared to absorb water, these fields will be able to capture water outside of the growing season and keep it for when crops need it. These fields will also be able to soak up heavy rains that could cause erosion in other fields.

Technology
Here are a few of the new tech tools farmers are using. The Midwest Cover Crops Council (MCCC) cover crop decision tool helps you choose ideal cover crops based on your location, cash crops, planting dates, and your end goal. Extend the functionality of your 20/20 SeedSense monitor with FieldView from Precision Planting. FieldView functions as a second display in your cab so you can view real-time, row-by-row maps of your planter’s performance. New from TeeJet, the SpraySelect Tip Selection App selects the proper sprayer tip for your application based on speed, spacing, target rate, and droplet size.

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Weather Trumps Demand