Tillage Conference Provides Farmers with Options

Tillage is an important part of a farmer’s operation. It takes time, uses fuel and contributes to equipment wear-and-tear, but it also affects a farmer’s planning process and crop and soil management plan.

That’s why Farmers, crop consultants, extension researchers and tillage experts gathered in Fargo, N.D., this week for the 10th Annual Conservation Tillage Conference to discuss conservation tillage options on the farm and help farmers fine-tune what they are doing.

Event speakers included experienced growers, agronomists, academic experts and production economists to cover every aspect of the farm affected by tillage choices. Jodi DeJong-Hughes, University of Minnesota Crops Extension Educator, spoke at the conference about choosing a reduced tillage system that’s right for farmers’ operations.

“When you reduce your tillage, in conservation tillage, you diminish soil erosion by wind and water,” DeJong-Hughes said. “Another result of conservation tillage includes a greater retention of residue in your field, which helps build up soil structure. Improved soil structure means you get better water infiltration, better water retention, which can be valuable in August.”

DeJong-Hughes also pointed out that conservation tillage leads to stronger microbial communities. Researchers and farmers are learning how very important they are for plant growth.

Most of her studies demonstrate that strip tillage has similar yield results as disk ripping, but with less passes across the field. That saves fuel, reduces soil compaction and wear-and-tear on equipment.

“This conference is valuable because it is really the one-stop shop for so much information,” she said. “Farmers can get everything they need at it, and instead of just talking about tillage, they also learn about equipment options, cover crops, fertility with banding verses broadcasting fertilizer, and much more. I truly believe it takes farmers, researchers, university professionals, agronomists and industry people working together to continue advancing soil productivity.”

Over 200 people attended the conference, which is now co-hosted by the University of Minnesota every year in rotation with North Dakota State University. All of the event’s sponsors, which includes the Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council and the soybean checkoff, and exhibitors have services or products for farmers directly related to conservation tillage. Next year’s conference will be held in Minnesota, and if farmers wish to keep up with resources, DeJong-Hughes recommends joining their email list. If you are interested, email her at dejon003@umn.edu.