MISSOURI — Missouri farmers utilize a wide array of agricultural techniques to produce the most crop while keeping operating costs as low as possible.
One such practice that is gaining popularity around the state is no-till farming.
KMZU’s Dan Watson spoke with Dhruba Dhakal, a Field Specialist in Agronomy with the University of Missouri Extension, to learn more about no-till farming as whole and how it can potentially save a grower some time and money.
Click below to listen to their conversation, which aired Tuesday on KMZU.
Just as the name suggests, no-till farming means skipping the tilling process. This means less time time is spent in the field while potentially leaving the soil with more organic material.
“No-till farming is way of growing crops for pasture from year to year without disturbing the soil to tillage,” Dhakal said, “It is an agriculture technique that enable farmers to control soil erosion, save time, save fuel and save soil moisture.”
With any new agriculture method, an operation will have to make adaptations in order to produce a successful harvest and no-till farming is no exception.
“Field machinery needs to be adjusted to function well in no-till crop production systems,” Dhakal explained, “there might be some issues, residual planters such as not running the planter on level. Side wall compaction might be another common planter issue with no-till farming.”
Other possible changes include increased insect and weed management, soil temperature and moisture control and machinery management.
The practice of no-till farming allows for a potential increase in overall soil health, which helps to off set some of the initial adjustments to the equipment and other farming practices.
“Soil is a living ecosystem with many living beings residing in it,” Dhakal stated, “including billions of bacteria, fungi and soil microbes. . .they all are drivers of plant nutrient recycling processes in the soil. No-till means there is no disturbance in the soil and there is less burning of soil organic matter.”
While no-till farming promotes soil health, the initial cost of equipment adjustments and other changes to an operation can add up. Dhakal recommends searching for used no-till equipment instead of spending more money on brand new machinery.