Charles Allen has found the perfect tillage fit for the blacklands of North Carolina. Allen and his brother, Dennis, farm together in Washington County, N.C.
Charles will share their successes with no-till, as well as challenges at the Southern Conservation Tillage Conference for Sustainable Agriculture in Raleigh, N.C., June 8-9 at the Jane S. McKimmon Center on the North Carolina State University campus.
The Southeast Farm Press is the technical sponsor of the conference and will provide extensive coverage of the event.
Registration is $100, $40 for students and includes a paper copy of the abstracts, lunch and a cookout on June 8. Full proceedings of the papers will be provided in CD format or will be posted on the conference Web site. Continuing Education Credits will be available.
For more information, contact David Jordan, North Carolina State University Extension peanut specialist, at 919-515-4068 or e-mail at david_Jordan@ncsu.edu.
The presentation is part of a session on June 8 featuring farmers and Extension agents from different areas of North Carolina
The Allens began the move toward no-till in the 1970s, before much of today's equipment was on the market. “It seemed like the right thing to do,” Charles says, finishing up corn planting in late April.
Fast-forward to the 1990s, and the availability of conservation-tillage equipment, no-till has found a permanent home on the 12,000 acres the Allens farm in eastern North Carolina.
In the 1990s, they started using no-till in corn, wheat and soybeans. “Some of the land has been without a plow for 12 years,” Charles says.
They've had some challenges with wheat, but even those challenges appear to be finding a solution with newer equipment.
No-till or conservation-tillage has been a concern in wheat because the residue actually creates a cold environment for the crop. “We found that frost hurt the wheat in the late spring because of the residue,” Charles says. Under the organic matter left from no-till next to the wheat, the temperature was as much as 5 degrees Fahrenheit to 7 degrees Fahrenheit colder.
“In the past couple of years, however, new tools have come out,” Charles says. They use a Turbo Till made by Great Plains that “more or less punches holes in the ground and throws away the trash.” The implement pushes the organic matter aside, opening up the wheat to warmer temperatures, and allowing the residue to begin to rot.
The Allens began using no-till out of a concern for the environment. “We're in six drainage districts and we were concerned about pollution and nutrients creating problems for our neighbors.”
Over the past 12 years or so, the Allens have cut labor costs and their fuel bill in half, increased corn yields by about 10 bushels per acre, and had 40-bushel per acre yields in soybeans.
Beaufort County Extension Agricultural Director Gaylon Ambrose will review tillage trends in Beaufort County, N.C., over the past 20 to 30 years. “Two out of three acres of corn in Beaufort County are now planted by conservation-tillage methods,” Ambrose says.
Tom Pegram, Union County Extension agent, and farmer Everette Medlin will discuss no-till and reduced-tillage in the southwestern Piedmont of North Carolina.
Mark Tucker, Forsyth County Extension agent, and farmer Kevin Matthews will talk about no-till and reduced-tillage in the northern Piedmont of North Carolina.
Arthur Whitehead Jr., Halifax County Extension agent, farmer and consultant Grant Staton will discuss reduced-tillage in the northeastern Coastal Plain of North Carolina.
Western Piedmont farmers Ronnie King, Clarence Cogdell, Sammy Thompson and Max Hambrick will talk about farmer-inspired demonstration work in continuous no-till with Steve Gibson, Cleveland County Extension agent.
An afternoon session that follows the farmer presentations will feature nutrient management considerations in conservation-tillage. Topics include the role of adopting reduced-tillage practices to satisfy government mandates in the Neuse River Basin and other sensitive watershed in North Carolina; the long-term benefits of reduced-tillage crop production; and the effect of rotation, tillage and fertility on rice grain yields and nutrient flows.
On June 9, conservation-tillage systems and pest management will be covered.
Sponsors include Monsanto Company, the North Carolina Soybean Producers Association, Pioneer (A Du Pont Company), and Syngenta Crop Protection.