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During the 26th annual National No-Tillage Conference in Louisville, we gathered several strip-tillers for a candid conversation about the origins of their system, and some of the transformational lessons they’ve learned along the way.
At the table were Tom Cotter from Austin, Minn., Brian Newcombe from Port Williams, Nova Scotia, Dean Sponheim from Nora Springs, Iowa, and Floyd Koerner III from Laingsburg, Mich. What follows are excerpts from the conversation, and you can read the extended Q&A on StripTillFarmer.com.
Strip-Till Farmer: Let’s start out sharing a little bit about your background and some of the reasons you adopted strip-till.
Brian Newcombe: “We’re from the Annapolis Valley in Nova Scotia, just east of Maine. We’re in a microclimate so we have a lot more heat units than does the rest of Nova Scotia. We’ll grow up to 91-day corn, and we can get 0.3 soybean to yield 60 bushels. The longer daylight helps us a bit, but we also have a livestock operation in addition to our 1,800 acres of cropland.
“We’re pretty vertically integrated in that we try to grow all our own feed. We have a soybean distributor so we don’t have to buy soy meal. When I got back from college, I started getting into no-till because I hate plowing. I started off with a 3-coulter Rawson set up, but it got really hard to no-till into winter wheat stubble because we are a little cooler climate. I transitioned to strip-till to warm up the winter wheat ground…