Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Farmer Convinced: Ugly Fields Have Higher Yields

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Farmer Convinced: Ugly Fields Have Higher Yields

Article excerpt

SOUTH COFFEYVILLE (JR) - Back in 2009, you couldn't pay Scotty Herriman to try no-till.

"Our bottomland is tight, heavy clay," he said. "It won't work here."

Herriman has been growing corn, soybeans, wheat and milo on 2,000 acres in Nowata County for more than 50 years, so it's generally wise to take his word when it comes to farming. But he acknowledges he misjudged no-till. Six years into his total no-till conversion, he said "it will work here, and I've proved it."

It took a series of disasters to get Herriman to consider changing from the conventional farming practices he had used for decades. He had seen others try no-till as early as the 1970s, but even during the severe drought of 1980-1981, he doubted the cost- effective and water-saving system. He was convinced a chisel was necessary to break up his soil, and the cost of a no-till drill was a gamble that outweighed the potential benefit.

"The drought was tough," he said. "It was hard to get a crop and the banks weren't in your favor. If I look back, we probably went broke twice."

Disaster struck again in 2007 when a major flood drowned his fields. He harvested a meager 13 acres that year. For two more years, Herriman fought nature and rising fuel prices by pulling a chisel behind his tractor. After a visit to his local U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service field office in 2010, he changed his mind. Herriman learned he could use assistance through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program to switch to no-till. Just like that, decades of conventional farming went out the window.

"We switched overnight," he said.

After the first no-till planting, Herriman's wife, Jo, described the farm as the ugliest in the county - referring to the crop residue that is intentionally left on the soil surface to protect the soil from erosion and temperature extremes. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.