California has lagged behind the rest of the nation in adopting conservation tillage on row-crop acreage. But, two dairies in the state tried conservation tillage for the first time this year and were pleasantly surprised with the results.

At Zylstra Dairy near Turlock, Calif., a test plot of no-till corn yielded 112.73 tons per acre, which compared favorably to standard-till results. And, at the Charles Ahlem Ranch near Hilmar, Calif., the tonnage of no-till corn was slightly higher than conventional-till corn.     

“We were pleased,” said Kristen Hughes, project manager for the Sustainable Conservation project in California.

Hughes suggests that California producers give conservation tillage a try for a few years — perhaps start with a small plot or two, and then expand if they like the concept.