Golden Age No-Tillers: Legacy Lessons From Early Adopters

With no-till as a practice having been around for 60 years now, and No-Till Farmer for 50, we wanted to find out if we had readers who have been using the practice consistently for that long

So in the summer of 2021, we emailed our readers to find out how many — if any — have been no-tilling since the early 1970s. We were pleasantly surprised to get a small handful of responses and ended up following up with four of them. 

In the following pages, we share details of the operations of Jim Eshelman (New Enterprise, Pa)., Bill Drury (Clarion, Iowa), Andy Hawley (Stockton, Ill.) and Don Wirth (Tangent, Ore.), including what got them no-tilling in the first place, what’s changed over the years and the challenges they want to tackle in the coming years. 

The No-Till Way: Doing More with Less 

When passing a farming operation from one generation to the next, the continuation of no-till practices is hardly a guarantee. But a proven track record of needing less labor and equipment to produce improved yields was a great foundation for an expanded no-till system.

By Jim Eshelman As interviewed by Martha Mintz

MY SON-IN-LAW, Rick Bowman, and his brother, Chris Bowman, are the third generation to no-till the fields of our hilly and stony farm ground in south-central Pennsylvania. And they’re lucky for that legacy in my opinion. When my father and I farmed together in the 1960s, it was a lot more work.

Before no-till, we’d…

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Martha mintz new

Martha Mintz

Since 2011, Martha has authored the highly popular “What I’ve Learned About No-Till” series that has appeared in every issue of No-Till Farmer since August of 2002.

Growing up on a cattle ranch in southeastern Montana, Martha is a talented ag writer and photographer who lives with her family in Billings, Montana.

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