Pictured Above: PAYS TO WAIT. “My biggest no-till mistake early on was not recognizing when it’s too wet to plant, maintained Scott Davidson, a veteran no-tiller from Dalton City, Ill.

A long-time booster of no-till, Scott Davidson passed away on April 17, 2021. The Dalton City, Ill., family man and farmer had made the transition to 100% no-till between 1991 and 1994.

I first met Scott at the first National No-Tillage Conference in 1993 in Indianapolis, Ind. Catching up on the latest activities and highlights of our lives during the past year became an annual tradition for us as Davidson never missed attending this event each January. In fact, Scott was among only six individuals who had attended all of our conferences, which will be celebrating its 30th anniversary next January in Louisville, Ky.

The 69-year-old no-tiller Davidson was preceded in death by his wife, Debra. He is survived by his son and daughter-in-law, Matthew and Sabrina, two grandchildren, Braxton and Laighton, and his mother, Betty Ann Davidson.

Besides being an enthusiastic no-tiller, Davidson served his country as a member of the Air National Guard. Also a big-time Major League Baseball fan, Scott enjoyed rooting for the New York Yankees and for any team playing against the St. Louis Cardinals.

One of Six “Iron-Streak” Attendees

At the National No-Tillage Conference’s 25th anniversary in St. Louis, I invited the half-dozen attendees who had attended all of these mid-winter conferences to reflect back on the past 25 years and their experiences with no-tilling. Here are a few thoughts Davidson provided during that day’s panel discussion.

Q: How did you get started in no-till?

“We no-till flat, black drummer soils with a corn and soybean rotation in central Illinois. We made the transition to no-till between 1991 and 1994 as a better way from to take care of our renewable resource.

“The main thing we had to learn was patience. If it’s too wet to plant, go fishing or spend time with your family. When the other guys were out working the ground, we had to let the soil dry out. If you didn’t wait, then you’d have to clean plenty of mud off the no-till planter.

“At the end of the first no-till conference in 1993, I signed up for the following year’s event. I knew I needed to get back with this group that was on the same page as me to learn how to take care of our soils better. Never missed one.”     

Q: Whats the biggest impact no-till has had in your operation?

“When it’s too wet, it’s too wet. Plus, I remember a story Lexington, Ill., no-tiller and strip-tiller Jim Kinsella shared in the ’90s about what people do when the fire at a hotdog roast starts to die down. You take a stick and stoke the fire, so it gets hotter and burns up the wood quicker.

“It’s the same thing with tillage. When cropping problems exist, some farmers use more tillage, which burns up the organic matter. They think they’re using intensive tillage to improve their soils, but in reality, the extra tillage is destroying the soil.”

His Three Decades of No-Till Knowledge Will be Missed

Davidson will be missed by myself and other no-tillers who enjoyed visiting with him at National No-Tillage conferences. Up in heaven, I’m sure Scott is still sharing his ideas on the many benefits of no-tilling.