RICH HISTORY. Looking for a method to preserve residue while also tilling a small area to prepare the seedbed, Illinois farmer Rich Follmer, founder of Progressive Farm Products, is credited with innovating an early version of a strip-till toolbar more than 30 years ago. 

The “Grandfather” of Strip-Till Talks Transition and Technique

Illinois farmer Rich Follmer reflects on how a desire to warm the soil while still maintaining his conservation efforts led to the invention of strip-tilling and shares what methods are working on his farm today.

Rich Follmer didn’t set out to become a businessman. In the 1980s, the corn and soybean farmer from central Illinois — considered by many to be the “grandfather” of strip-till — designed and built a system that would allow him to till the ground and plant soybeans simultaneously. 

That innovation caught his neighbors’ attention and led to the founding of his company, Progressive Farm Products. A few years later, a friend approached Follmer to discuss frustrations with low yields from no-till compared to his conventionally tilled acres. 

He wanted to find a solution that would warm the ground and dry it out enough to plant, while still maintaining his conservation efforts across his 2,500-acre operation in Hudson, Ill. Follmer came up with a solution — a piece of equipment that would till the ground in 8-10-inch-wide rows, while leaving the rest of the surrounding ground undisturbed. Before long, he dubbed this new farming method strip-tilling, and the rest, as they say, is history.

“We built a homemade 12-row bar with some crude row units at first to kind of clear a path in the field. We went into actual production in 1992, and we thought maybe we hit a home run with the system,” Follmer says. “We had to figure out what to call it, and the only thing we could think of was strip-till.”

Recently Follmer, who invented the midmount, dual-placement strip-till toolbar that is being used by thousands of Corn Belt farmers, sat down with Editor Frank Lessiter…

To view the content, please subscribe or login.
 Premium content is for our Digital-only and Premium subscribers. A Print-only subscription doesn't qualify. Please purchase/upgrade a subscription with the Digital product to get access to all No-Till Farmer content and archives online. Learn more about the different versions and what is included.

Libby Wawzenek

Contributing Writer

Top Articles

Current Issue


No-Till Farmer

Get full access NOW to the most comprehensive, powerful and easy-to-use online resource for no-tillage practices. Just one good idea will pay for your subscription hundreds of times over.

Subscribe Now

View More

Must Read Free Eguides

Download these helpful knowledge building tools

View More
Top Directory Listings