A key factor in both no-till and strip-till practices is implementing the tillage on well-drained land. Both methods build organic matter and minimize soil erosion. But soil scientists, like Charles Ellis, University of Missouri natural resources engineer, recommends using strip-tillage on fairly flat topography. Heavy rains on hilly ground can erode established strips, he says.

“Our silt clay loam here in O’Brien County is very forgiving soil,” says Tom Wagner, a district water and soil conservation commissioner, describing it as a windblown loess over glacial till. “We don’t have potholes or as much of a compaction as other heavy soils.

“We’ve always had good organic matter on these fields,” Tom says. “We’re pretty aggressive on our fertilizer program, and haven’t changed it much with new tillage practices. Our soil tests indicate high levels of nutrients – 30 ppm P and about 200 ppm K. What we’ve really noticed is a big increase in earthworms.”

 His brother Jim Wagner adds, “You go out there and pull a corn plant and see that those roots are down so far, so deep and so much better than when we used a field cultivator and disk. The biggest thing is that you’ve got to change your mindset.”