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This Illinois farmer is investing in more trials and tests in the 2021 growing season to push the envelope on conservation.

Austin Keating, Associate Editor, Prairie Farmer

December 17, 2020

1 Min Read
tractor, planter and fertilizer tank in field
LOW TILL: Allerton, Ill., farmer Curt Elmore says in 2021, he plans to experiment with putting ammonium sulfate in the furrow at planting to compare yields with broadcast sulfur.

Ashmore, Ill., farmer Curt Elmore spent 2020 delving further into conservation farming, planting hundreds more acres of cover crops, experimenting with strip tillage and moving into no-till soybeans.

For corn, he’s still using a finisher in the spring, but he’s reduced fall tillage.

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“We used the disk ripper on a couple fields where I sprayed when it was pretty wet and had some ruts. But as a whole, the ripper is not getting much exercise anymore," Elmore says.

He’s weighing the costs and benefits of buying his own strip-till bar, so he had a neighbor strip-till some of his ground in 2020. In 2021, he intends to test two different rates of phosphorus and potassium in strips to compare strip fertilizer placement to broadcast application.

Last year, he took his broadcast rate and applied it in the strip. He plans to keep testing that for the next couple of years.

“I haven't seen yields drop off or be hurt by planting into a stale strip or anything, so I feel pretty confident about it,” Elmore says.

Curt Elmore in a skid steer

The experiments will continue in 2021, as he plans to put on ammonium sulfate at planting, and compare that to broadcasting sulfur in the spring ahead of the soil finisher.

“2021 is going to be another year for experimenting,” Elmore concludes.

Related: How conservation can pay for itself

About the Author(s)

Austin Keating

Associate Editor, Prairie Farmer

Austin Keating is the newest addition to the Farm Progress editorial team working as an associate editor for Prairie Farmer magazine. Austin was born and raised in Mattoon and graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a degree in journalism. Following graduation in 2016, he worked as a science writer and videographer for the university’s supercomputing center. In June 2018, Austin obtained a master’s degree from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, where he was the campus correspondent for Planet Forward and a Comer scholar.

Austin is passionate about distilling agricultural science as a service for readers and creating engaging content for viewers. During his time at UI, he won two best feature story awards from the student organization JAMS — Journalism Advertising and Media Students — as well as a best news story award.

Austin lives in Charleston. He can sometimes be found at his family’s restaurant the Alamo Steakhouse and Saloon in Mattoon, or on the Embarrass River kayaking. Austin is also a 3D printing and modeling hobbyist.

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