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Any zero till/regenerative ag experts?

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Rydero

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I've gone for the most part zero till with my seeding of grain and cover crops the last couple years. Last year did about 200 acres. I've had good success with grain germinating and growing but cover crops have been a little variable. It was a little hard to judge this year because we've been quite dry the last couple years and there were a lot of grasshoppers present on the fields I zero tilled the year before. I've got the use of a 9450 hoe drill with zero till openers and I'd like an experienced opinion on how much better it'd be to invest in a disc opener zero till drill. I feel like the hoe drill almost counts as tillage so maybe I'm just hurting myself in regards to building soil structure/regenerating the soil.
It's heavy clay soil and the primary method of harvesting most of the crops is by grazing.
Thanks for your input in advance.
 

BFE

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Not an expert on anything, but have been almost exclusively no-tilling for 15-20 years. Also zero experience with a hoe drill. In fact, had to look one up to be sure what they looked like. That being said, I would think soil conditions would have to be just right to effectively use one in zero till without causing major soil disturbance in heavy clay. Everyone around here uses disc openers, lots of clay soils here.
 

FungusProudKY31

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Not sure what a hoe drill is. If you do not have ample means to control competition from existing vegetation some extra disturbance would increase your seeding success. A notill drill with many seeds will need the competition knocked back by you or frost or you'll be wasting the effort. You'll probably get a decrease in OM where you disturb but if it is the minority of the surface you will still be OK in the whole.
 
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Rydero

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Here's an example of a pasture sprayed out after being over grazed and zero tilled with the hoe drill after germination for an idea of how much disturbance there is.IMG_20190625_201457.jpg
 

Stocker Steve

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I use a Hay Buster no till drill and a JD press drill. I have lusted after a better drill but I just do not have enough acres, and the used US no till drill market has gone up a lot due to all the prevent plant acres in the last two years...

You can no till with a conventional double drill if conditions are ideal. Most of the time you get variable results and take out bearing in the disk openers. Don't ask me how I know, because I am an expert.

The Hay Buster does not have gauge wheels. A dark yellow POS, but at least the disk opener bearings hold up.

I think you have to look at no till like an ideal BMI. Conditions vary and every year is different. I usually "no till" into grazed ground with hoof cap. If you get rain at the right time things work well. Otherwise a shallow tillage pass is necessary and a post drill packer is desirable. I pull an old star and ring packer behind my drill. The packer about doubles the establishment of small seeds.

How r u metering the small seeds?

How deep r u drilling?

How fast r u going?

What are you using to close?
 
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Rydero

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What are you using to close?
Thanks for the info. The hoe drill has a packer wheel for each opener. By the catch i get it seems to do a good job, but it's one of those things. It tears the sod and you can see a bunch of seeds in the little trough it leaves and think - there's no way this is going to work...Other thing is by the second year it's more and more like you're cultivating, I'm wondering if I'd get better soil to seed contact with a real zero till drill and if it'd be more precise depth control for some of the smaller cover crop seeds. The fantastic thing about the hoe drill is that it belongs to the guy I work for and it's free. Good to know you feel you get better establishment packing. I was thinking I'd start packing on the second year to control the random stones that get pulled up each year.
 

Allenw

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I don't have a clue about notilling with a hoe drill.

I find I have to be on top of things when notill planting in the warmer months of spring and summer. Moisture just seems to soak away faster.
 
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Rydero

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I mix in the seed box. I seed w forage oats to create enough volume just seed at a little more than half the normal rate for the oats. I use a couple lbs/ac extra cover crop seed to help my cause.

I try to seed between a half and a quarter inch. It's not the most accurate machine for depth. There seems to be lots of variability when there's uneven ground.

I generally go about 4.5 mph

It just has the packer wheel it doesn't really close otherwise.
 

Silver

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What are you using for openers? I don't think eagle beaks would be the answer in sod, but atom jet openers look like they would cut nicer.
I have eagle beaks on my old IH, any time I've tried to drill into sod it didn't go very well.
 
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Rydero

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What are you using for openers? I don't think eagle beaks would be the answer in sod, but atom jet openers look like they would cut nicer.
I have eagle beaks on my old IH, any time I've tried to drill into sod it didn't go very well.
Atom jet openers.

My boss bought a second drill this spring and it came with eagle beaks. We used it on a few fields that had been seeded to grain the year before and it seemed to work well but as it got drier and we got into old pasture ground it stopped cutting as well. He had Atom jets on a parts machine so we just put them on.
 

Stocker Steve

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Could go a little deeper. Need to be in moisture of course. Small seed will follow the oats up.

I think your uniformity fine IF you have something vigorous in the mix to fill in. We usually use SS for that here. Not sure what would work there. Perhaps a brassica?
 

Stocker Steve

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Could go a little deeper. Need to be in moisture of course. Small seed will follow the oats up.

I think your uniformity is fine IF you have something vigorous in the mix to fill in. We usually use SS for that here. Not sure what would work there. Perhaps a brassica like rape?
 
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Rydero

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Sorghum did well here last summer. In fact it's the only thing that did well on one field that had major grasshoppers. Apparently they don't eat it. I've only had luck with brassicas once so far (broadcast and harrowed on a worked field not zero till) but it was so good I keep them in the mix every time in case it happens again, lol.

Here's my biggest success last year. 20ish species mix. Grazed twice before I let it grow up to this.
IMG_20200808_173232.jpg
 

RDFF

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What you've got looks great in the pics, IMO. I run a Deere 750 NTD. I do think that disc openers would give you less disturbance, especially in "sod", but it might not be worth the extra investment to make the move, especially if your "hoe drill" is free. And bearings need replacing on newer NT drills too. Wondering if what you're doing is harvesting by grazing every year, if you've considered trying to move toward a base of more perennials, and then "interseed" some annuals as a fill in if you feel you feel you need them?
 
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