Rising fuel costs, equipment wear and tear, and potential nutrient and soil loss are a few reasons some farmers are making the shift to no-till or reduced tillage farming. Additionally, reducing tillage has the potential for more moisture to be trapped in the soil, helping protect against drought. The added benefit of leaving the land undamaged by soil erosion and nutrient leeching makes this a potential win-win for today’s farmer and conservationist.
“Start clean, stay clean” is the mantra for weed control, and until recently, that was only possible through tillage and turning the ground over completely between seasons. Pre-emerge and post-emerge herbicides have given growers a different option to control problematic weeds.
“Those tools make minimum-till possible,” said Matt Montgomery, Pioneer Field Agronomist. “That’s what makes it possible for us to engage in the kinds of practices that keep the soil where it belongs in the field and to keep it from washing away into water ways.”
One major downside of no-till or reduced-till for northern regions is lower average soil temperatures that may delay crop emergence. A delay in seedling emergence often leads to postponement in vegetative growth, silking and grain drydown. These delays can result in significant yield loss in the north due to the shorter growing season.