Archie Abrameit took a few minutes off from his duties as field-day host, disperser of lunch tickets, pre-lunch speaker and traffic manager to talk about the important research that has occurred at the Stiles Farm Foundation for the last 50 years. Then he turned to some of the challenges that lie ahead for the agricultural industry.

Abrameit has been manager of the Stiles Farm Foundation since 1997 and says the annual field day, which has been ongoing since 1961 at the site near Thrall, Texas, offers farmers and others an opportunity to learn about the latest trends and how new technology might fit into a specific farm operation.

“I’ve seen a lot of changes since 1997,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of new technology with equipment, computers and variety traits. We’ve also witnessed the success of the Boll Weevil Eradication Program.”

He says a lot of cotton farmers “fussed about the boll weevil program fees, until they made an extra 200 pounds of cotton per acre.”

Reduced tillage has been an important aspect of Stiles Farm research efforts. “With these Blackland soils I’ve been impressed with what I’ve seen from strip-till systems,” Abrameit said. “I don’t dismiss no-till but I do have some issues with no-till on a continuous basis. We need to cultivate occasionally.”

He says strip-till offers several advantages over clean tillage. “One thing that’s sometimes glossed over is the fertilizer saving. We can save as much as one-third of phosphorus and potassium costs, and at current prices, that’s important.”

He understands some reluctance for adoption of reduced tillage. “Some commercial farmers lease land and landlords may be retired farmers who are used to doing things a certain way and prefer clean fields,” Abrameit said.

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Long-term, reduced tillage may not show significantly higher yields, but it provides other advantages farmers can’t put a price tag on.

“And over 10 to 25 years, we build organic matter and soil quality. Water utilization is also better with reduced tillage, but that’s also something we don’t see immediately. It’s a cumulative benefit that I’ve seen in crop production over the years.”