4R Farming

Ohio No-Till and Strip-Till

Testing practices on-farm is a critical part of implementation and changes in management systems. This farm in Ohio has been working with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service to test different combinations of tillage, fertilizer timing, and cover crop species to work on optimizing their management. The farm set up treatment fields to compare a conventional management practice to advanced management systems.


On this farm there were differences in the cost of practice implementation of 4R and soil health practices together. One of the advanced test fields saw a decrease in cost per acre, but yield was lower than the farm average. This demonstrates the importance of testing new systems of practices on smaller parts of the farm and the need for more than one year of testing.

Cost of 4R Practice Implementation for Ohio Corn

Yield Range: 114 to 168 bu/ac

Practices Changed from Intermediate to Advanced

Practices on test fields (MZ1 and MZ4):

  • Variable rate application of nutrients
  • Strip-tillage placement of nutrients
  • One less deep tillage pass
  • Addition of multi species cover crop planting

Conventional treatment (MZ3):

  • Broadcast pre-plant fertilizer application followed by two tillage passes – chisel plow and field cultivator

Advanced Practices on the farm and on test fields:

  • Variable rate application of nutrients
  • Deep tillage prior to planting
  • Use of a nitrification inhibitor with anhydrous ammonia applications
  • Subsurface placement of phosphorus fertilizers
  • Grid soil sampling

Environmental Metrics