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Damp harvest may spur more no-till production next spring
After seeing the difference in rutting of tilled versus no-tilled fields this harvest season, there may be a renewed interest learning how less soil disturbance might fit into crop management plans. Whether cutting soybeans or shelling corn in wetter than desired fields, many farmers this fall observed how much earlier fields could be trafficked where seeds were no-tilled in the spring.

The Dec. 5 Ohio No-Till Conference affords Midwest farmers a convenient opportunity to learn from other farmers, crop consultants and university/agency specialists. Held as usual at the Der Dutchman Restaurant in Plain City, Ohio, the day-long session hosts speakers with messages for both experienced and novice no-tillers. Plan to come as early as 8 a.m. to question exhibitors, register and enjoy the best breakfast pastries a bakery can serve, as well as morning refreshments.

With much of our area experiencing extreme weather in 2012, there may be an interest in hearing Ohio State University Extension’s Jim Hoorman share production results showing how no-till and cover crops excelled in boosting yields during his 9:05 a.m. presentation. OSU’s Rafiq Islam, Randall Reeder and Ekrem Aksakai follow with controlled traffic values they have documented in their research.
“Continuous No-Till, Cover Crop Surprises and the Value of Soil Quality” provides Certified Crop Adviser Joe Nestor’s perspective from long term observations as owner of Nestor Ag Management, a Northwest Ohio crop consulting company. Neighbor Allen Dean, will share his experiences with, “34 Years of No-Till; Plus Cover Crops: Hi-Clearance Seeder.” The 2012 No-Till Awards and delicious buffet lunch follow.

After investigating services and products offered by the commercial exhibitors, Matt VanTilburg from VanTilburg Farms near Celina, plans to share his experiences with “In Crop” seeding of cover crops. Farmer Keith Dennis, from Southeast Ohio’s Perry County, then details his first year cover crops experience.

Blake Vince injects an international flavor to the program, discussing strip-till and cover crop management in Ontario, Canada. 

Next, soil quality demonstrations by the NRCS’ Mark Scarpitti clearly illustrate how less soil disturbance promotes better soil tilth, an improved environment for beneficial soil organisms and reduces the likelihood that valuable plant nutrients will compromise water quality. Carrol, Ohio’s Dave Brandt then will give corn yield results following blends of cover crops in a drought year.

Questions and closing comments should allow a wrap of the day by 3:45 p.m. Past participants have noted that some of the best knowledge gained from the program comes prior to the presentations and in between sessions from fellow attendees. So, come early and stay until your questions are answered. 
Registration by Nov. 30 is just $40. As an added bonus this year, one person who pre-registers will receive a free registration to the National No-Till Conference in Indianapolis, Jan. 9-12, 2013. If you are interested in attending the Dec. 5 Ohio No-Till Conference, please make the check payable to: Ohio No-Till Council, and mail it to Mark Wilson, Land Stewards, 1122 Somerlot Hoffman Rd. E. Marion, Ohio 43302.

Thanksgiving is tomorrow, a time to reflect on the blessings of the past year. Despite individual challenges, we generally do not have to look too far to see those enduring those greater than our own. If we could only imagine how the Pilgrims were thankful for surviving their first year in America, experiencing freedom to prosper in what today would be described as a harsh environment. Please give thanks.