Hoorman said interest in no-till and cover crops is growing because of the increased yield and profit potential, and cost savings from using less nitrogen fertilizer and herbicides.
“The whole situation is creating a new system called ‘ecological farming’ by trying to farm in Mother Nature’s image by not disturbing the soil,” he said. “It changes your whole philosophy about how you go about farming.
“You may have to sacrifice a little bit in the short term, but you’ll see tremendous long-term gains with this kind of farming.”
But for some growers, it can be a hard sell, said Brandt, who works with OSU Extension and OARDC researchers on cover crops on his farm. That's especially true for farmers who have used conventional tillage for years and may find it harder to adjust.
“We all get into a rut in how we do things and using cover crops is a whole different mindset,” he said. “The hesitation is that we have been taught to use conventional tillage for years and years, which makes it harder to change that paradigm to do something different.
“It’s like putting your pants on right leg first for years, then having to change and put your pants on with your left leg first. But if we don’t change our habits, we won’t be able to continue to provide food for the world if we continue to wear out the soil. We’ve got to conserve the soil by using cover crops and reducing erosion.”
The Conservation Tillage and Technology Conference is at the McIntosh Center of Ohio Northern University in Ada. The full schedule and registration information can be found at http://ctc.osu.edu . Participants can register online or by mail. Registration for the full conference is $85 (or $65 for one day) if received by Feb. 27. Information is also available in county offices of OSU Extension.
The conference is sponsored by OSU Extension, OARDC, Northwest Ohio Soil and Water Conservation Districts, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, and the Ohio No-Till Council.