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Let nature work

By Staff | Nov 11, 2011

To the editor,

I’m sure Bob Streit meant 2 inches per foot of soil, instead of per inch in his Oct. 21 column in Farm News. This is a forgivable error, but other comments in his article dealing with post-harvest are troubling.

First is his obvious dislike of residue, nature’s way of protecting precious topsoil when the canopy is non-existent late-fall, winter and early-spring.

He believes residue is a hindrance to next year’s crop, which may be true if the crop is corn, but certainly not with soybeans. Frankly, some of us have no-tilled corn into standing cornstalks after fall or spring strip-till with more production and profit than those tilling.

His reasons to till:

  • Soil temperature is cooler in the spring hindering corn emergence; but a narrow strip 6 to 8 inches wide is as effective as blackening the entire field.
  • Goss’s wilt and SDS is better controlled if buried by tillage. There is zero data to support this theory.
  • Nutrients are better recycled. I vehemently disagree. Nature has the best system with residue on the soil, allowing worms and natural organisms do perform their magic.

Streit said operators, or farmers, with soil types “that don’t function will under no-till have to get (fall tillage) done ” Tell us those soil types. I haven’t found any in the Clarion Webster soil association after 30 years of no-till.

Nearly 80 percent of cornfields will be tilled this year and planted to soybeans next spring, which perform equally well, whether no-tilled or plowed.

The belief that some soils need tillage to perform well is repugnant to me as a no-tiller conservationist and a Christian.

Farmers have the tillage gene deeply embedded in their DNA causing addictive behavior, fed and nurtured by agronomists like Streit.

Unfortunately, many soybean fields will be tilled this fall. Farmers who persist in fall tillage of soybean stubble have a special place reserved for them when their journeys on earth end, and I don’t think it’s heaven.

Jerry Crew


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