Reduced tillage helping protect fields from drought

by | Oct 9, 2023 | 5 Ag Stories, News

Harvest in full swing across the state. Past President of the Iowa Corn Growers Association Lance Lillibridge farms in Benton County, which is in that D4 drought designation in the latest Drought Monitor so one of the driest areas of the state all growing season long.

“We started on a lighter farm here and yields are definitely down. The rain was much needed and we didn’t get it this year. We’re seeing about 50 bushels under what we saw last year on this particular farm. I think there are going to be better farms out there but we definitely have a reduced crop.”

Even with the lower numbers he’s thankful they aren’t even worse, due in large part to updated reduced tillage practices since the last time a growing season was this dry, which he says in his area was before 1988.

“When I was growing up as a kid we’d go out and till the soil several times just to dry it out and get a seed bed that was adequate to plant into. Now, the way we do things is quite a bit different. We aren’t tilling the soil and destroying the soil structure with that tillage equipment. On our farm we’re using a strip till practice where we use a knife to inject nutrients and then we come back and plant directly over that strip.”

He says the value this year is on full display.

“That helps save soil moisture, that residue we leave on top of the ground is extremely beneficial. I hear it often, people concerned about have too much residue and thinking they have to manage it. Residue can be your friend, and it is on our farm, we like to leave it there all year round.”

Certainly something to think about for your operation moving forward.