AGRIBUSINESS: Less Tilling Is Better For Farming

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It may be the first day of spring, but it's not the first day of the planting season.
For crop insurance benefits, April 11 is the earliest planting date on corn.  It's April 21st on soybeans.
Producers still have time to make planting decisions, and this year will also be the first in which farmers across the state can choose what's best for their fields, with the final Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy available for reference.
What's good for one field might not be best for another, but at the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, Soil Conservation Division Director Jim Gillespie says in terms of water quality, the less tillage, the better.
"Keeping the phosphorus and sediment into the field and keeping where it will produce, you know, grow that crop the best and keep it out of the water. So no-till, strip-till are great practices to help do that."  He says, "They're identified in the nutrient reduction as some practices that can achieve up to a 90 percent reduction in phosphorus leaving the field, so great practice."
Iowa State University Agronomy Professor Mahdi Al-Kaisi says spring is not an ideal time for tillage; wet conditions can lead to soil compactions and lower utilization of subsoil moisture, which helps in a drought.  He advises not entering a field unless squeezing a handful of soil from it leaves no moisture on your palm.