palle no till

By Nancy Vander Schaaf

Boyden, Iowa — Palle Pederson, Iowa State University Extension soybean specialist, presented no-till soybean research at the recent Northwest Iowa No-Till/Strip-Till conference in Boyden. 

Pederson’s definition of no-till is "to go in and plant beans in undisturbed corn crop residue."  

Soybeans may look funny among old cornstalks and get off to a slow start from cool soils, but they catch up.


Estimated tillage costs range from $11.90 to $17.70 per acre. No-till eliminates those costs and saves time.

Pederson is comfortable with a seeding rate of 140,000 seeds per acre in 15-inch rows. Some plants may not come up through the debris, but missing plants isn’t a problem. Soybeans can compensate by using the extra space to grow more.

"A final stand of 100,000 plants per acre is enough to maximize economic return," said Pederson.   

Tools are available to minimize the risk of no-till, he said. Seed treatments can help protect against seedling diseases such as Pythium and Rhizoctonia. No-till seems to decrease problems with soybean cyst nematodes and white nold, but increases problems with sudden death syndrome and brown stem rot.    

 For the past two years, Pederson has done research at several Iowa sites. Plots are located near Calumet, Humbolt, Nevada, Lennox, Oskaloosa, and Waterloo. Preliminary data supports an Illinois study that no-till increases yields in well-drained soils but decreases yields in poorly drained soils.

"Overall, the highest yielding cultivars in conventional tillage are also the highest yielding in no-till," said Pederson.

He also looked at soybean growth in his research.

"Plants are two inches shorter on average in no-till, but they still yield," he said.


Cool, wet springs are a challenge in no-till as well as setting up planters properly to deal with the extra moisture and residue. General recommendations are hard to make because every field is different and every farmer does things differently.

"A good manager can get all systems to work," said Pederson.

What To Read Next
Fundraising is underway to move the giant ball of twine from the Highland, Wisconsin, home of creator James Frank Kotera, who died last month at age 75, 44 years after starting the big ball.
Caitlin and Jason Keck’s two-year term on the American Farm Bureau Federation committee begins next month.
The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission met on Jan. 5, 2023, to consider the application for Summit Carbon Solutions.
Qualified Minnesota farmers will receive dollar-for-dollar matching money to purchase farmland.