No-Till Farmer-Expert Helps Others Make the Switch
July 25, 2008
"In 1987 when I got started with no-till, I was 35 years old and still single. I had better things to do than till fields to kill weeds that weren't even there yet," said Dan Gillespie, state no-till specialist for the Natural Resource Conservation Service.
For 20 years, Gillespie has used a no-till system. He said it saves money and leads to better crops. Also, he has seen a large reduction in soil erosion, an increase in soil organic matter and the moisture-holding capacity of the soil and a decrease in the time he spends in the field. Lately, he has spent some of the time he saves helping others get started with no-till practices.
The initialization period offers some challenges, Gillespie said. In 1987 when he started, one of the challenges was doing something different than his neighbors. Some people aren't altogether comfortable with that. Another challenge was learning how to plant in cooler, moister soils.
"You can smear the seed furrow side walls; you can get compaction; you have to be patient knowing this is a different system that has more moisture and maybe go to a different farm that doesn't have so much moisture."
Gillespie said he made all of these adjustments during his early no-till period.
Now, he also recommends a pop-up, in-furrow fertilizer.
"If you get a warm spring, you don't need it," he said, "but it's the cheapest insurance policy available."
For more information on getting started in no-till or refining your practices, contact your local extension or NRCS office.
West Central REC, North Platte