By Randall Reeder, Ohio State University Extension Agricultural Engineer (retired)
When is no-till not really no-till? If a field has not been tilled the previous two seasons, is the third year truly no-till?
Jerry Grigar, State Agronomist for NRCS in Michigan, has pondered those questions, especially related to no-till research. If a new faculty member plans to do a 3-year no-till research project, can she start with ground that’s been tilled for years? Would the results in the third year be different if it was on long-term continuous no-till ground?
No-till is not really no-till until the soil achieves a physical, biological and chemical balance after several years of continuous no-till. Cover crops, manure, and crop rotations can reduce the time to as little as 3 years, but it often requires 6 to 9 years.
Grigar, who is also a successful no-till farmer, believes any no-till research begun on tilled ground should be called transitional no-till.… Continue reading