Joe Zenz has been 100% no-till since he started farming near Lancaster, Wis., 15 years ago. He attributes his 92.8-bu. 2011 soybean yields in part to that practice and his soils’ overall high organic-matter levels. Last year he won top honors in the dryland category of his state’s yield contest.

“The role of organic matter levels is huge in maximizing crop yields,” he says. “I plant cereal rye in the fall, then spray it with glyphosate in the spring, about two weeks before I plant. Originally I used the rye on my corn-on-corn acres because it seems to help break down the previous crop residue more quickly. Last fall I tried it on corn stalks before soybeans, and that seemed to work well, too.”

He drills his soybeans to get an early canopy that helps reduce weed pressure, and always uses an inoculant. “You get better nodulation on the beans, and it seems to even carry over to the next corn crop.”