Thirty years ago, Fred Yoder chisel plowed his fields and it froze. He went and looked at his neighbor’s no-till field to compare the soil structure. The next year he bought a no-till drill to try no-till soybeans.
After that, Yoder rented a farm that had been in long-term no-till and the landowner requested that he keep it that way. That is when Yoder started experimenting with no-till corn on his farm in Union and Madison counties.
“I had better seed-to-soil contact than I ever had before. I had to manage it very intensely to get it going and I have been no-tilling ever since,” Yoder said. “I didn’t no-till because one day I decided to save the earth, I wanted to make money. I look at no-till as a way to cut costs.
“With all of the tools we have, it is much easier to do today than it was back then. I have seen the benefits of no-till. My yields hold up against any conventional yields and I don’t have the cost of the big iron.”
As he has worked to build his soil structure and quality through years of stewardship, Yoder has seen first hand how no-till can perform in extreme weather conditions.
“No-till works in all conditions. If you have a lot of rain, you capture more of it,” he said. “In a dry year, if you have cover on that ground, you conserve all of the moisture that you can. We had a better crop in 2012, but worse conditions than in 1988.”
Moving forward, Yoder believes that no-till has better prepared his farm to produce more with less — a necessity that will be increasingly demanded from the global market.
“The big picture says we have to supply the world with enough food in an environmentally friendly way. We have to do a better job of producing food, feed and fuel,” he said. “The rest of the world is looking at us. We have a good story to tell and people need to know what we are doing and what we are not doing. We can produce crops more efficiently and more cost-effectively here than anywhere else in the world. It is a privilege for me to do exactly what I want to do. Now I believe that my farm is in better shape than it ever has been.”