No-Till Seeding with a 455 John Deere Drill


By: Kevin Wagner (K&L Farms)
Kevin Wagner and Leon Wagner: Owners

K&L Farms is a partnership with my brother, Leon Wagner, located in Farmington, WA. We farm approximately 3900 acres over a 12 mile radius, from the McKrosky State Park to Tekoa, WA. Our soil types range from mountain to the Palouse loam, and the slopes range from 5° to 35°. The average precipitation next to the mountains is 22-24 inches annually, and in the Tekoa area is slightly less.

The crops grown on our farm are wheat, barley, lentils, grass, and occasionally canola or peas. We have 13 landlords and most of our ground is in a two-year wheat-lentil rotation. We do work in barley and at times some canola on the lighter and rocky soil areas where we need a continuous cereal grain rotation for conservation. We also have taken a few pieces of ground and placed them in a three-year rotation of wheat, barley, and then lentils.

Our approach has been conservation and efficiency directed since around 1980. At that time we started shanking in our fertilizer with a Glencoe Soil Saver, which was rebuilt and set up on twelve-inch spacing, and then culti-weeding and seeding the fall wheat. Also, starter fertilizer is placed in the row with the seed.

We first started doing some no-till work on our farm in the early 1990’s with a John Deere 750 no-till drill. We also used a Flexi-Coil Air Seeder on a couple hundred acres of fall seeded wheat in ‘95-96, and have since done work with both fall and spring seeded cereal grains with the Concord Air Seeder. We prefer to no-till or minimum-till all of our seeding whenever possible.

In January of 1997, I was privileged to attend the annual No-Till Conference in Brandon, Manitoba. I came home convinced that there was more my brother and I could do on our farm for conservation. So we set about developing a toolbar to attach to our John Deere 455 drills. The reasons are obvious, in that we wanted placement of fertilizer, efficiency of operation, and no-till for conservation. The toolbar that we developed and attached to the J.D. 455 drill is accomplishing these objectives very effectively. Our fall seeded wheat is now just one operation, as we are able to place the fertilizer and have the ground worked just enough for the drill to seed into quite accurately. In the spring, we are now just doing one cultivation to incorporate chemical, and then seeding the cereal grain. Another benefit the toolbar has shown is that it can act as one of the cultivations for incorporating chemicals just prior to seeding peas or lentils, therefore eliminating a tillage operation.

We would like to convert all of our farm to a three year rotation of wheat, barley, lentils, or canola; if economically feasible in the future. We will continue to no-till or minimum-till all of our ground, as we are pleased with the results we are receiving.