Making A No-Till Gamble Pay Off

The promise of less equipment lured Terry Dahmer into no-tilling, but now the Illinois farmer finds gearing up with new technology suits his needs.

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NAME: Terry Dahmer

LOCATION: Marion, Ill.


ACRES: 1,150

CROPS: Corn, soybeans and cover crops

By day, I’m a general contractor. In my time off, I’m a no-tiller. I consider farming my hobby — a profitable hobby, thanks to no-till.

My family has been in the farming business for a long time. I’m the fifth generation to work our farm, despite my parents urging me to find work elsewhere.

I did get a day job, but farming is just something I’ve always wanted to do. My dad moved us back to the farm when I was just 9 years old, and I haven’t left since. At times, I think I ought to, but I haven’t yet.

Of course, conventional farming practices were the name of the game on the farm. As I got older, I wanted to expand and make room for myself on the operation. I got the chance to lease and then purchase some land.

At that point, I didn’t have any money or equipment, so no-till seemed the only way to go. I could farm with very little labor and capital.

I had seen no-till in action while I was harvesting corn in fields that our county Extension advisor, Mike Plumer, was no-tilling. His corn was always just a little better than ours. His soil wasn’t washing away. No-till required less equipment. It just made sense to me.

I was young, didn’t know any better, and didn’t have anything to lose.


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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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