No-Till Conference co-organizers (l
to r) Chad Godsey, Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service cropping
systems specialist, Larry Wright, Great Plains Resource Conservation &
Development Council Coordinator, and Jeff Edwards, Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service small grains specialist.
Beaver County Conservation District
board member Lonnie Bailey (center) and another conference attendee
listen while Scott Staggenborg (left), Kansas State University professor
of agronomy, talks about the benefits of no-till conservation.
No-till Conference speaker Todd Vincent farms wheat
and cotton in Canyon, Texas using no-till methods. Todd and his brother,
Brian, were rewarded as one of the Conservation Security Program (CSP)
recipients for 2005 in Texas.
Psychologist Dr. Val Farmer was a featured speaker at
the No-Till Conference. Dr. Farmer specializes in issues and
opportunities presented to America's farming and ranching families on a
Rising fuel costs, increased labor costs and natural resource concerns
are on the minds of many farmers across Oklahoma. Many are searching for
a different way to do business – one that that can save time, money and
natural resources, if possible.
It is for all of these reasons that
no-till farming has been quickly catching on in other states. Now
Oklahomans are opening up to the idea.
A total of 275 individuals attended the first-ever “No-Till Oklahoma”
statewide two-day conference February 11-12, 2008 at the Clarion
Convention Center in Oklahoma City. Farmers from across Oklahoma and
surrounding states received information on the no-till philosophy, key
considerations for crop rotation, disease, weed, and insect management;
equipment-essentials for no-till, overcoming obstacles and no-till
wheat, cotton, and grazing systems.
Conservation practices such as no-till can save farmers 217 million
gallons of fuel and up to $480 million per year, while other
conservation practices such as irrigation water management can reduce
diesel consumption by 80 million gallons and save farmers up to $180
million per year. In addition to energy savings, these practices provide
obvious benefits to the environment.
The USDA-NRCS has an “Energy
Estimator” website to help individual farmers compare potential
energy savings between conventional tillage and alternative tillage
systems based on crops and input costs in their specific area.
In addition to a lot of practical information from university and
USDA presenters, attendees also received no-till testimonies and
perspectives from farmers who have been no-tilling for many years.
No-till information and experiences were provided by No-Till producers,
such as Todd Vincent (Texas), Jimmy Kinder (Oklahoma), Keith Thompson
(Kansas), Jay Franklin (Oklahoma) and Tony Kodesh (Oklahoma).
No-till farmer Todd Vincent from Canyon, Texas told the audience how
fourteen years ago, he and his brother Brian were farming over 2,000
acres with conventional methods.
“We were the laughing stock of the county,” Vincent said. “We were
always behind. We were always the last ones to get our crop in and we
could just never catch up. We were run ragged and never had time for our
families. We just knew there had to be a better way.”
That’s when they looked into no-till farming. The Vincent’s father,
Jack, was skeptical at first, but gave them the freedom to try something
new. They found the switch to no-till farming to be a life-changing
“We actually have free time now,” Vincent said. “We get to go to our
kid’s ball games and spend time with our families.
“Our production is the same; it just costs a lot less money to do it
this way,” he added.
Crop rotation is a key in the success of no-till farming. The
Vincents have found rotating cotton and wheat to work very well in their
area. According to Todd, cotton is the high value cash crop in the
rotation and the wheat crop was grown to produce crop residue to plant
the cotton crop into.
“This rotation has a two fold benefit for the cotton with extra
organic matter laying on the soil to help increase soil tilth and
productivity. The stubble also provides protection for the cotton when
it is in its most tender stages of development,” he explained.
Although each producer speaking at the conference has approached
no-till in a different manner, with different equipment, crop rotations,
cover crops and pest management, each one is having success with no-till
and improving their crop diversity, soil quality and economic
stability. Each of the producers that spoke agreed that switching to
No-Till has lessened time in the field, reduced stress and improved
family relations, providing a more satisfying lifestyle.
The conference was sponsored by NRCS, Oklahoma Conservation
Commission, High Plans Journal, and Oklahoma Cooperative Extension
Service. The Great Plains RC&D assisted with the organizing and
marketing the conference. This state-wide no-till conference was a
fulfillment of a goal set by the Great Plains RC&D and the Southern
Plains Agricultural Resources Coalition during area wide planning
sessions that began four years ago.