MURRAY – Murray State professors of agriculture, Dr. Jeffery Young and Dr. David Ferguson, explained why the no-till planting method is not only good for soil organic matter, but preserves the soil for the future generations.

Dr. Jeffrey Young is a Murray State professor of agriculture and grandson of Henry Young, who was among the first farmers to use mechanized no-till farming techniques in Christian County.

“It was always on his (Henry Young) mind. How do we take care of the soil, how do we make the soil give us the best yield without destroying it forever and ever? said Young.

The main concern was that the rocky hills weren’t getting better, only worse, Young said. Young’s grandfather noticed that undisturbed soil was less prone to erosion and produced better crops. That was a year before Henry Young produced the first no-till cash crop in southern Illinois with George McGibbon.

Healthy, natural soil can be rebuilt, but it takes generations of hard work. Organic matter can be replenished, but it takes a long time. The no-till method is a preventative method for farmers, rather than a restorative practice.

According to Dr. David Ferguson, a retired agriculture professor at Murray State, there are two types of erosion affecting this country: wind erosion and water erosion. This area of ​​western Kentucky gets its moisture primarily from precipitation, which can erode the soil over time.

“It’s an investment. If the soil is going to be better in 50 years, the farmer who practices no-till today might not realize the full benefits in his lifetime. Young said. “However, future generations will. It’s a bit like leaving a legacy. This is a long term investment, I may not receive payment during my lifetime. It’s for a world that needs to eat.

Soil health was a big motivation for Henry Young and his descendants who continued farming. If the land is ultimately overused for generations, it will eventually be washed away. The soil will be an unusable layer of clay, silt and rocks.

“Convention and a sense of pride could be part of some farmers not changing their tillage methods. There’s a lot of skepticism about climate change,” Young said. “If you leave unproductive land behind, it will hurt the bushels per acre and the income of whoever continues the farm. You are hurting them and the global food supply that depends on you for nourishment.

In the layers of the ground, there is a layer called fragipan. This layer restricts water flow and root penetration. The layers above make up the topsoil which is crucial for water storage.

“If you don’t have a lot of topsoil, you can’t store water and the crops suffer. With this new technology, we are able to preserve topsoil,” Ferguson said.

Young said his grandfather implemented no-till on 0.3 acres and from that day on he didn’t see a plow. The historic land is still there on Route 107.

“If humidity is becoming increasingly scarce due to climate change, it’s something we need to preserve as best we can.” Young said, “With no-till, it’s about adding organic matter. It rejuvenates the soil and makes it better than it was. We leave it better than we found it.


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