Washington’s interest in no-till increased dramatically in the 1980s and 1990s as several veteran no-tillers took over the role of Chief of the Soil Conservation Service (SCS), which is now known as the Natural Resources and Conservation Service (NRCS) in Washington.
The first was Peter Myers from Matthews, Mo. who served as SCS chief from 1982-1989 in Ronald Reagan’s presidential administration.
A firm believer in the merits of no-till, Myers, who farmed in Missouri’s southeast Delta region, would have been no-tilling if it wasn’t for the furrow irrigation system used in his 1,100-acre operation.
“I would hope people realize the fallacy of rolling that fresh dirt in the fall and even in the spring,” says Myers, an ardent promoter of less tillage.
“We reduced tillage as a fuel economy measure and the more I did, the better I liked it. We don’t even use chisel plows much anymore and we no longer own a plow.”
Myers believes no-till provides farmers with a low-cost self-help conservation tool.
“To me, the minimum tillage concept in times of a poor economy is something a farmer can do with the equipment he already has,” he says. “He doesn’t have to go out and buy a new planter and may only have to adapt his planter for no-till. But still, it’s a much better way to go without having to put in an expensive terrace system.”
Myers hopes the SCS will encourage further research by the land-grant universities on cost efficient new technologies such as no-till.
It’s refreshing to hear the new SCS head talking about the tremendous accomplishments no-tillage can make in solving our erosion problems.