Farmers learn about no-till farming - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Farmers learn about no-till farming

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WINNESHIEK COUNTY (KWWL) -

In Winneshiek County Tuesday, farmers met to learn more about no-till farming.

It's a style of planting that can save producers time, energy and money, but not everybody is on board.

Todd Duncan is a Winneshiek County district conservationist. He said a recent study shows only 20 percent of the county's acres are farmed with a no-till method. It's not a conventional style of farming, but those who do it say they've seen positive results for themselves and for the environment.

Set among the stalks of last year's corn is Terry Elsbernd's current crop of soy beans. He owns the land on which farmers met for Tuesday's no-till information session. He said he has seen benefits of the farming method through 15 years of no-till farming.

"Labor savings and then soil conservation really came along with it, and then the other benefit is fuel usage. I use a lot less fuel than conventional till," Elsbernd said.

When tilling, farmers churn up the top soil and crop remains from the previous year, making a smooth surface.

No-till farmers don't churn the soil, they simply plant around the remains of last year's crops, saving time and fuel money.

"He's not disturbing the soil profile. He's leaving all the residue in tact, on the surface, which helps reduce the runoff and improve the soil quality," Duncan said. "Some of the advantages to no-till are fuel savings, time savings, reduced wear on machinery."

One of the drawback, no-till farmer Ken Baker said, is "less than clean-looking fields. I mean, you've got everyone else who's worked theirs table-top smooth."

No-till fields might not look completely neat and tidy, but this Baker said no-till farming has yielded the same amount of crops for him as the tilling method.

Farmers and experts at Tuesday's event said they're seeing a slow but steady increase in the number of people giving the no-till method a try.

The Farm Energy Working Group provides energy-saving learning opportunities for farmers. They held Tuesday's event.

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