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Farmers stop no-till strategies before reaping benefits

Nesson Valley has been hosting an eight-year study that involves different cropping systems and tillage practices directed by Bart Stevens, a research agronomist in irrigated cropping systems stationed with the Sidney USDA-ARS unit.

“Research has shown there is a five to 10-year transition period, during which the soil ecosystem adjusts to no-till management,” Stevens said. “During that time, no-till fields may require higher inputs and/or produce lower yields compared to conventional practices.”

In the Nesson Valley study results, yields for corn, soybean, sugar beet and barley have not been substantially reduced by no-till systems so far, but some inputs like fertilizer and labor have been lowered.

In the short-term, however, there is a learning curve and there are substantive management issues to sort out. | READ MORE