This question started bugging me today. I learned this year that a lot of conventional tillage farmers are putting row cleaners on their corn planters to get to smooth soil. Is there more to a no-till planter than that?
A no till planter is actually a pretty neat machine. Without any prior tillage needed - it simply cuts a slit in the soil, opens the slit just enough to place the seed, and then closes and packs the slit. The biggest obstical I have seen is that they do not like to work very well with lots of debris to work thru. Most farmers I know run someting over standing corn stalks to help (soil finisher or even just a rotary mower). The debris tends to clog the mechanism. They are great time savers in areas that have been farmed before and they really shine at retaining soil moisture and reducing errosion. They tend to be heavy as you need the weight to help cut thru the soil surface tension as well. Traditional planters essentially do the same thing, but the soil is loose from being tilled in some form. Almost all farmers I know use no-till because of all the advantages of it.
Depends on what your "old" planter is. I no-till corn into beans, beans into beans, and then back to corn into beans as my rotation with my JD flex 71 planter. My Uncle who is a farmer and my local coop manager who is also a farmer said I would have no problem doing this with this planter as long as I waited till the soil was at the right moisture content. The manager defined it as when one takes a handful of dirt from the top of the soil and can make a ball with it and it stays togeher when the hands are opened and then when dropped from waist level to the ground it breaks up. I used this this when I first tried and have come to be able to identify when the soil is right for planting with my planter and then plant. It has worked great so far.(4 years)
I do shred the stalks in the spring before planting beans and do nothing with the bean stubble remaining in the spring before planting either corn or beans.
I don't even have one, i'm just curious. There are still a few of the old old 4 row John Deere planters out there in the countryside. My dad kept his up until just a few years ago. One of those you buy for a few hundred bucks and then search the earth for parts.
I hear you MObuck. Farmers with a lot of acres to plant can't wait for the right conditions but I believe most foodploters have the opportunity to wait till conditions are right. Acres planted are much smaller. Foodplotters aren't as concerned with highest yeild to sell(we do want the highest yeild as possible but feeding wildlife is the main concern).
I completely agree, it's about what your planting and what your planting into. I couldn't have planted the 16 acres of clover, I planted into sod with my conventional drill. I've had alot of success planting rye/ oats/ peas, etc. into clover with my conventional drill.
I often wonder how much a partial modification would give you? Say just row cleaners? It won't obviously give you a no till drill, but you'd think it could help? Maybe it won't cut corn stalks and sod like butter, but maybe help get some better soil contact?