“I’ve traveled a lot, I’ve been to South America, been to Australia several times, and we’re lagging behind our competitors all over the world. I sometime say we’ve sot of unleashed a monster because the world can bring a lot of acres into production with no-till. What keeps us back?…”— Bill Richards, former head of the Soil Conservation Service (now NRCS), Circleville, Ohio
No-tilling itself was still an innovation when Bill Richards got in on the ground floor of the movement more than 50 years ago and today he stands as one of the major influencers who helped prove no-till is a viable, profitable farm practice.
Richards stayed in it for the long haul, modifying his own no-till equipment. In fact, many of his designs were similar to those represented by some of today’s major manufacturers. Richards was instrumental in establishing the residue management campaign in his county and he was dubbed the grandfather of no-till during his term as chief of the Soil Conservation Service, which is now known as the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Richards has since retired and turned control of the family’s 3,200-acre farm over to his sons but he continues to promote the benefits of no-till practices.
For this podcast, we, sat down with Richards to talk about the history of no-till adoption on his farm, the early innovators that helped him along, such as Kinze founder John Kinzenbaw and international product engineer Ralph Bumheckel, and some of the equipment modifications he made that helped him successfully adopt no-till.
P.S. There’s lots more great no-till stories and history in Frank Lessiter’s new book, From Maverick to Mainstream: A History of No-Till Farming. Check it out here.
No-Till Influencers & Innovators podcast series is brought to you by Montag Manufacturing.
Montag Manufacturing is your fertilizing equipment specialist. Offering dry, liquid and complete fertilizer systems as well as auto-steer carts, Montag’s precision fertilizer-placement solutions will reduce your rate, increase your yield and assist your stewardship goals. Visit them at montagmfg.com.