Weather delays no-till planting in the US across parts of the Corn Belt

Recent weeks have brought a series of weather-related challenges to no-till farmers across the Corn Belt, impacting the planting season and highlighting the resilience of no-till agriculture. In central Illinois, no-tiller Dave Brown is among those waiting for drier conditions to complete planting on his farm. Persistent showers have forced many farmers like Brown to start and stop their work, as they wait for fields to dry.

Brown, whose family has farmed the same soils since 1867, expressed a mix of patience and urgency. “We need a good hard week of ideal conditions to get things done. We’re starting to look at the calendar and say, ‘It’s showtime,'” he said. Despite the delays, Brown remains optimistic, noting that his yield could suffer if the weather doesn’t provide a necessary dry window soon.

Similarly, in southeastern Wisconsin, veteran no-tiller Tyler Troiola is dealing with nearly 2 inches of rain in a single day, compounded by a tractor glitch. Troiola highlighted the advantages of no-till in such conditions, pointing out that his fields are less affected by puddles compared to conventional tilling. “There are certain parts of the state that are a little behind, but we’re doing OK. It just needs to dry out a bit,” he said.

In Arizona, Robert Boyle is facing the opposite problem — a scarcity of rain. With only 7 inches of annual rainfall in Coolidge, Boyle is using precision technology to make strip-till and cover crops work under arid conditions. “We’re implementing banded water instead of full irrigation, looking at multiple ways to improve the bottom line,” Boyle explained, emphasizing the efficiency of his methods.

This season’s challenges have also brought attention to alternative cover crops for colder climates. USDA research agronomist Jose Franco discussed the potential benefits of diversifying cover crops like triticale, hairy vetch, and winter camelina. “We’re looking at the nutrient uptake with these different species and their impact on the next corn crop,” Franco said, highlighting ongoing research aimed at enhancing soil quality and water infiltration.

The importance of no-till in improving water management was further demonstrated by veteran agronomist Ken Ferrie in Illinois. Following a significant rainfall event, Ferrie observed, “A good no-till program can almost fix the erosion issue by moving into a longer-term no-till program.”

Additionally, no-till farmers have a new financial incentive to continue their sustainable practices. Mitchell Hora, a no-tiller from Washington, Iowa, discussed the potential benefits of a federal tax credit under Section 40B for growing low-carbon corn used in sustainable aviation fuel. Hora explained the complexities of the credit, suggesting that more generous points for soil health practices could significantly enhance participation.

Add Fertilizer Daily to your followed sources to get market news first  

Enjoyed the story?

Once a week, our subscribers get their hands first on hottest fertilizer and agriculture news. Don’t miss it!