Sunday, September 7, 2014

No-Till Innovators

I missed this piece written almost three years ago.  It was interesting to see how many of these people influenced me and who had the most impact on me over the years.  The picture shows Rick Kettley of Illinois on the left, Keith Schalpkohl of Stockton, Iowa in the center and me on the right.

Rick is a farmer that I follow for soybean production.  Keith is too but his corn and soybean yields are above mine.  Both understand crop rotation and soil fertility similarly and yet differently than I do.  We are on the "same page" yet we like to discuss the differences.

I have met most of these people in the article but I will cite a few.

Howard Martin, Elkton, Ky.  He started no-tilling to earn a decent living from poor-quality land and developed specialized no-till equipment, such as planter row cleaners, in his farm shop. Martin’s success led to the formation of Martin Industries, among today’s leaders in producing no-till planter and drill accessories.

I didn't know Howard until I met my no-till mentor, Paul Reed of Washington, Iowa.  His cousin David Moeller and he had a great impact on my farming practices and what I have shared with others since.

A trip to Washington, Iowa or Elkton, Kentucky is still valuable to any farmer interested in making more from less.  That's the key to the Martin Till System, planting in a furrow that is as good or better than a minimum or full tillage series of passes.  Dwayne Beck and Ernie Behn also had a big impact on me and led me to continuous no-till.

Eugene Keeton, Clarksville, Tenn. He is a farmer turned inventor who came up with innovative planter ideas from his Kentucky farm shop that were later adapted by Kinze and John Deere. He invented the Keeton seed firmer to improve no-till seed-to-soil contact, as well as the finger pickup corn meter and the brush meter for soybeans

I would not be farming if it were not for these people, I am sure.  Our trip to Quebec recently refreshed my belief in no-till.  Improved soil structure enhanced with cover crops that improve soil quality release a lot of nutrient.

Farmers are trying to figure out how to survive the next couple of years and the farmers who have already learned how to do these things have a leg up on the competition.


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