66″ No-Till Corn Roots Following Cover Crops

This is not a scene from a horror flick...it's a scene from Frank Gibb's experiment showing that smoke was coming up from the tile drains over 200 feet from the tile entry point.

I had a “see it to believe it” moment in late August near Stryker, Ohio (Williams County – NW Ohio).  A very long and deep root pit had been dug as Frank Gibbs (Ohio NRCS Resource Soil Scientist) was looking for the tile in a continuous no-till corn field.  I’m thankful that the tile was not easily found because we found pretty remarkable “things” going on in the soil beneath the soil.  What were those “things” we found?

Watch the Frank Gibbs video to see how special cover crops and no-till make a tough soil a healthy soil!  Frank does some pretty incredible work that shows the value of having a healthy soil.  Now, watch this second video of the smoke test results.  I have seen this test three times and NEVER seen it this awesome!

  • corn roots and earthworm channels up to 5 1/2 feet deep on no-till corn
  • top soil approximately 3 feet deep on top of lake bed soil
  • smoke from Frank’s “smoke test” coming up from 34″ deep over 200 feet away from the entry point

Frank says in the video that often times that the corn roots would “be turning out” when they hit the lake bed soil.  But because of cover crops and no-till the earthworms had plenty to eat for much of the year and the soil was very healthy compared to similar soil types in NW Ohio.  Obviously these roots did not “turn out”…they kept going down all the way to over 5 feet deep!


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