Crop growers are paying attention to the success that other farmers are reporting to have with no-till farming.
In response to the growing interest, Soil and Water Districts are bringing in no-till seed drills to rent out to farms that are interested, but have not had up close experience with the process and are concerned about paying out a large sum of money for machinery that they are unfamiliar with.
Recently, at Honorone Farm in Ames, NY, in a demonstration hosted by Montgomery County Soil and Water Conservation District in conjunction with Central New York Cornell Cooperative Extension; a large group of interested growers had the opportunity to get a hands-on experience with three no-till drills and talk to their owners about what their success has been.
Kevin H. Ganoe, CNY CCE Regional Field Crop Specialist, led a discussion on why no-till farming is advantageous to farmers.
“Often people think of no-till as in using a no-till corn planter,” Ganoe commented. “But that only allows part of the crop rotation to be planted no-till. No-till drills allow new seedings, small grains, annual forage crops and soybeans to be planted no-till so there is minimal soil disturbance which reduces erosion and improves soil health.”
Other reasons to no-till include fuel savings and time savings (time factor) — and lots less rock picking.
Jerry Cunningham, of Durham, NY, rents out Haybuster no-till drills, and was on hand at the event to show a Haybuster 107C No-till drill.
“I’ve had the Haybuster for probably 20 years. So, I’m quite familiar with them and overall we’ve had very good success with them.”
“We started out with no-till on our own farm 25-30 years ago,” said Cunningham. “We did a lot in Delaware County — and still do.”
Cunningham said he had a 5-year program with Delaware County through New York City Watershed and he keeps one machine just to cover that area. The second machine is rented out mostly in his area. “There’s been a lot of demand for it this year!”
One feature of the Haybuster is three different seed boxes. “This machine will plant any seed from small grass seed, alfalfa, clover, timothy, and it’s very good about controlling the depth. Most people plant 1 inch -2 inches deep,” explained Cunningham. So, three different products, including dry fertilizer, can be used at the same time and dispensed at different rates.
The 2014 Haybuster 107C No-Till Drill is the drill that is now available through Montgomery County Soil and Water.
“The drill is equipped with a small seed box — also known as a legume box — so it can seed alfalfa, clover and other small crop seed varieties. Farmers and landowners that wish to use the drill will have to sign a lease agreement and provide a Certificate of Insurance to the District,” stated Christine Saeli, CCA and Certified Nutrient Management Planner for the agency. “Anyone interested can contact me and I can explain to them the specifics needed on the Certificate of Insurance.” Saeli said that the drill would be delivered to the farm renting the machine.
Bob Kalbfliesh of Washington County Soil and Water Conservation District was at the event and spoke about the two no-till drills available for rent in Washington County.
“We have a Haybuster and a Sunflower”, said Kalbfliesh. “We’ve also taken them to Saratoga County, and even Rensselaer County to rent to those farmers, and we used to take it once in a while into Vermont.”
Kalbfliesh said Rensselaer County does also rent out a drill.
“In addition to saving on fuel and rock picking,” Kalbfliesh commented, “with no-till you’re going right into sod, so you’re not disturbing the rocks and that’s a huge advantage. It helps build soil structure and organic matter; you’re building your overall soil health so that your yields will increase for future crops, too. If you’re not plowing, you’re not getting that runoff into streams, so if you have some waterways or streams or rivers, or whatever we’re trying to protect, the drill is really great because you’re not plowing those fields.”
Wayne and Cyrus Conard of Ridgedale Farm brought their John Deere 750 to show to attendees. “The size of it is helpful,” said Cyrus. “It’s 15 feet wide and it holds a fair amount of seed, so we can plant longer without having to refill.”
Scott Ryan, owner of Honorone Farm, uses a Great Plains 1006NT, which he has used for two years. “We’ve had very good success with it,” Ryan said.
John Kemmeren of Bainbridge, NY, attended the event and spoke about his experience with no-till.
Like Ryan, Kemmeren has a Great Plains drill. “We have been very successful in using no-till for the last 40 years,” said Kemmeren. “Our yields have increased tremendously due to the excellent soil health and crop rotations we have implemented. Another big advantage to no-till seedings is there are very few — if any weed seeds that germinate because the soil is not turned over. Our hay yields are more than double the state average. Also, I should add that we feel that cover crops are extremely valuable in the success of our farm.”
Rotation was also discussed. “If there’s too much residue, then there are things you’ve got to work out in terms of rotation to reduce that residue,” advised Ganoe. “You got to work these things out ahead of time. Rotation is critical.”
Contact Christine Saeli for more information on the no-till drill now available in Montgomery County, at email@example.com or 518-853-4015.