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Shaggy98
Senior Advisor

Notill cropping rotation

I am leaning towards converting our farm to 100% notill operation.  What are the most popular central plains rotations?  I know for a fact I will be incorporating HRW wheat as well as grain sorghum.  I have no livestock at this time, so grazing won't need to be implemented if a cover crop is worked into the rotation.  Up until this point I have only produced milo and wheat, so any other crop will be a new experience for me.

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10 Replies
Nebrfarmr
Veteran Advisor

Re: Notill cropping rotation

I don't plant a lot of acres, but I plant a lot of small fields, both for myself, and for a couple neighbors.

If your growing season is long enough, and you have enough moisture, you can double crop soybeans after wheat harvest.

If you live in dry conditions, like we often have here, your best corn will come when no-tilled into wheat stubble.  If moisture is adequate, you may be able to plant beans immediately after wheat harvest, and follow next spring with corn.  If moisture is short, leave the wheat stubble tall to catch snow, and plant corn the following spring.

If you never planted corn, I will say that it is a 'water hog' compared to wheat, milo, or beans, so you need to plan accordingly.  One guy I know who is pretty successful at it, plants beans, one year, an early enough variety to get it picked in time to sow winter wheat.  He harvests the wheat, and lets the field rest, just keeping the weeds burned down, and plants corn the next spring.  Then back to soybeans the next spring.  On a dry year, it is not much of a stretch to say his corn will almost double yield the continuous dryland corn in the area.  We use cows here, to clean up the cornstalks, so often we don't even need to shred, just plant the beans in between the old corn rows.  Around here, little to no sorghum is grown, so I can't help you there.

Shaggy98
Senior Advisor

Re: Notill cropping rotation

The more I am thinking about this, I am wondering about a winter wheat-double crop soybeans-grain sorghum-corn rotation.  Due to time restraints, I was told to follow corn with the start of the next rotation.  I am unsure of the double crop beans, or if some type of cover crop would be better.  I guess the first few years I could try some of each and see which pencils out.  I have not produced anything except wheat and sorghum, so I know I am going to spend a few dollars on custom cutting or on renting attachments that fit my combine.  My mind is going about a million MPH as I think about this and I think you can see my blood pressure pulsating in my veins.  Conservation is not a new approach, it is just not widely spread to my location yet.  Maybe I should take some comfort in knowing I could be leading the way in this area.

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Nebrfarmr
Veteran Advisor

Re: Notill cropping rotation

Well, at $10 a bushel, it wouldn't take much beans to be worth trying to double-crop, plus they give back a little Nitrogen to the soil.  If erosion is a problem, they don't hold soil as well as other crops.

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tree fmr
Advisor

Re: Notill cropping rotation

We have been 100% no-till for over 20 years, east central Iowa.  Corn/soybean rotation.  Just the last 3 years have started using a rye cover crop after soybeans.  On a dry spring we do a burn down early to prevent the rye from using too much water, when wet, like last year, we let it grow a little and use the water.  This also helped with weed supression and keeping water from evaporating.

 

The key to no-till is to not compact the ground with large equipment or livestock.  Also having a perfect planter set up, this is our most expensive piece of equipment, and worth it!

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Shaggy98
Senior Advisor

Re: Notill cropping rotation

As I was planning on the double crop beans, I slapped myself right in the face.  Not thinking of this last fall, I applied .4oz Finesse herbicide to all my wheat acres, so no double crop beans this year.  Any idea if there are any cover crops that will work?

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Nebrfarmr
Veteran Advisor

Re: Notill cropping rotation

No, I don't know what all is safe after Finesse, I'm not familiar with it.

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todd miller
Friend

Re: Notill cropping rotation

You can plant STS soybeans after 4 months as well as IR corn hybrids.  You might be able to go with grain sorghum as well, but that is a bit more iffy as the guide says 4-48 months.  On the cattle and compaction issue, as long as you have a growing root system out there, and you manage the grazing, I would not worry that much about compaction, especially after the first two or three years.  I had this discussion with others a few days ago, and a day or two later it came to me that I haven't heard anybody complain about compaction in their pastures.  It can happen, but you really have to abuse the system to cause a problem.  The same will go with no-till if managed correctly.  What we are seeing now from the soil and cover crops as well is leading us to the knowledge that we need to keep something growing as much as possible on the soil.  You will lose as much or more moisture through evaporation than through plant transpiration many times, if the right plants are used.  The cover crops definitely give us more when they are grown in a good diverse blend.

 

Todd

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Shaggy98
Senior Advisor

Re: Notill cropping rotation

I am definitely interested in keeping something growing at all times, but my question is do I use cover crops or do I go from cash crop to cash crop?  I am 100% dryland, so any attempt at a double crop will be without crop insurance.  Should this be a concern?

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tree fmr
Advisor

Re: Notill cropping rotation

You might try a field radish for your cover crop. Will hold the N for next seasons corn and help loosen the soil.
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