No-till Farming Grows in Popularity


by Karen Sarita Ingram, Post Register

This will be Gordon Gallup's 30th season of no-till planting on his 3,000-acre Ririe, Idaho farm.

Gallup, who grows wheat, barley and alfalfa, said using no-till methods has helped him save money on fuel, water and fertilizer costs.

“I started it more as a conservation practice, trying to stop (soil) erosion,” he said. “(When I used to till) we were going across the soil five to seven times before we put the seed in, and every time you do, you lose moisture.”

Using the no-till method, farmers put seed and fertilizer directly into the soil without tilling it first. The topsoil is left undisturbed so that organic matter in the soil remains intact. That organic matter helps keep moisture in the soil, decreasing erosion and the need for irrigation. The organic matter composts naturally, acting as a built-in fertilizer.

But the effectiveness of no-till farming depends on many different factors, such as climate, soil type, crops being grown and how long no-till has been used.

For dryland farms in eastern Idaho that have been using traditional tilling methods, it can take several seasons before no-till begins to show real benefits, which can be discouraging for the farmers.

“It takes longer to build the organic matter (in the soil) here,” Gallup said. “I think that happens a lot, people try it one year and say it didn't work.”

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Source:  Associated Press

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