Long-term no-till benefits farmers’ time and the environment

By Jamie Fisher for PPF

Farmers and community members gathered to learn about long-term no-till practices and the related costs during a Peninsula Pride Farms Conservation Conversation on July 27 at Pagel’s Ponderosa in Kewaunee.

Dave LaCrosse, cropping manager at Pagel’s, said the practices not only make the crops and environment happy, but farmers’ checkbooks, too.

Participants at the gathering heard about these benefits and were also able to see them in a Pagel’s corn field that has been in no-till for 11 years.

“When you have good soil, it’s easy to get seed in the ground,” LaCrosse said. “No-till helps with that.”

LaCrosse said the benefits include less soil compaction when there are fewer passes with equipment. Along with using less manpower, a farmer doesn’t have to worry as much about the cost of fuel or wear and tear on equipment, and best of all, it saves time.

“No-till isn’t always beautiful but if you give it time you will have a nice crop,” LaCrosse said. “No-till the first year doesn’t always look as good but stick with it.”

Long-term use of no-till allows the organic matter and microorganisms to give the soil what it needs. There is organic matter on the top feeding the soil. Fertilizer costs are low. And the planter is set up the same for no-till versus tillage and the goal is to get the seed 2.5 inches or more to get a nicer stand.

When asked what he would do differently, LaCrosse said, “Get in the field earlier.”

Todd Koss, crop adviser to Pagel’s, said it’s nice working with no-till when creating a nutrient management plan.

“The first two or three years are tough; it’s hard to look at, but when you count your passes, not wasting fuel, iron or time — a farmer would rather be planting than working ground.”

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