We have been no-tilling a big % of our crops since the early 1990’s. In the last few years we have been switching back to more tillage. Why you ask? One answer – yield, more bushels per acre where we have done some form of tillage especially vertical tillage in the past few years.
I do not want to base my reasons for doing things on one years results, but in 2012 no-till in my area took a big hit. We were extremely dry in 2012. Only maybe 1936 was worse in the last 120 years. 2012 was worse than 1954 in my area.
At our house we had only 5 tenths of an inch of rain in July and 3 tenths of an inch in August until the last day of August when hurricane Issac showed up.
This area was different than many in one respect. Our corn on corn on the very good flat black ground was better than our corn behind soybeans. Corn behind soybeans were all strip-till/no-till and tillage around here made huge difference last year. Not quite sure why, but between the very small rains we did receive not making it to the dirt because of the no-till crop residue soaking it all up and maybe compaction in the no-till fields the deep ripped corn on corn was better. But even a strip-tilled field that had been para-plowed the year before when it was corn stalks going into soybeans was a big disappointment in yield. We even had one field we moldboard plowed to see how that would affect diplodia levels in corn, it yielded better than the strip tilled soybean stubble. We did purchase an in-line ripper that we ran over a good portion of our soybean stubble before we strip-tilled it. Hoping to improve yields in 2013.
We really like to no-till. Less hours in the field, less wear and tear on equipment, less expense. But, and this is a big but, our no-till yields on corn I think are not as good as they used to be. Soybeans still seem to do OK with no-till, but at these prices it has really changed the economics of crop production.