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Not Your Grandfather’s No-Tiller: Rethinking the Farm of the Future

From alternatives to investing in new farm equipment to embracing data-driven economic decision-making, the next generation of no-tiller will need to be tech and business savvy.

Brand and farm equipment dealership loyalty can often be generational traits, handed down sometimes for decades. 

But as no-tillers know, tradition doesn’t always translate to prosperity. And just because something has been done one way for years, doesn’t mean it should be done the same way in the future.

Casual parts counter conversations or chewing the fat on a service visit have long been catalysts for a farmer’s long-term business relationship with their equipment dealership. But the building blocks of those relationships are evolving as generational transition comes to many U.S. farms. 

According to the 2017 Census of Agriculture, the average age of all U.S. farm producers was 57½ years, up about 1.2 years from 2012 data. With age comes experience, as producers averaged more than 21 years farming on their current operation. 

The paradigm is shifting for how some no-tillers evaluate return on investment of equipment and technology, with a critical eye on future innovations and economic sustainability of their operation.

Cambridge, Ill., no-tiller Monte Bottens believes there will be less and less of the traditional approach to farming “as we become more businesses instead of owner-operators. This is the current trend. That part of it, that mindset is going to have to change. That’ll come with the next generation of farm kids.”

Alternatives to Purchasing

The rising cost of new farm machinery along with the rapid development of precision technology — especially autonomy — is giving growers reason to pause before signing a check or taking a loan…

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