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"No-till" coming to County

In the late 1950s, the San Rafael Conservation District Board of Supervisors listed as a goal to bring a "no-till" seeding drill into the county. After 40 years, two no-till drills will make that goal a reality.

The current Board of Supervisors made application for two Truax no-till drills and transport trailers through a Conservation Innovation grant from U.S. Department of Agriculture. The grant was approved and the drills have been ordered.

The drills will be capable of planting seeds in all types of tillage practices: conventional tillage, minimum tillage and no-tillage. The drills can be rented from the San Rafael Conservation District beginning in 2009.

No-till seeding involves planting seeds for crops (alfalfa, small grains, and grasses) into unplowed, or "no-tilled", soils. Seed are placed directly into the stubble of the previous crop. This process will save crop producers time and money in reducing tillage operations.

Under conventional tillage practices a producer may spray the field to reduce weeds and remove the old crop, add fertilizer, then plow the field, disk at least twice, level the field once or twice and then plant the crop. This is as many as eight passes over a field.

Under furrow irrigation systems, the producer will then make furrows in the field to transport irrigation water. With the new sprinkler irrigation systems being installed in the county, this process is eliminated.

Under a "no-till" tillage system the field is typically sprayed to remove weeds and the old crop, fertilizer may or may not be applied, and the seed is then planted into this unplowed field. This is a total of three passes over a field. The fuel and time savings alone make no-till tillage worth looking at.

Other benefits of a "no-till" conservation tillage system include increased water holding residue, increased soil organic matter, reduced erosion potential, increased water holding capacity of the soil, improved soil tilth (physical characteristics suitable for plant growth), increased earthworm populations, improved soil structure, reduced compaction of the soil, and elevated infiltration rates.

More information on this exciting "no-till" opportunity will be made available in the coming months. Plans are to hold at least one workshop on "no-till" planting with specialists from Utah State Universtiy Extension Service and crop producers already using this technology.

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