In the early 1970s, Jim Smith worked at the John Umstead Hospital in Butner, N.C. He managed 11,000 acres and the production of milk, eggs and meat that fed the mental hospital’s 3,000 patients.

Smith was no-tilling corn into sod one day in April when a neighboring farmer stopped and asked what he was doing. He told the grower he was no-tilling corn.

The farmer didn’t say anything further to Smith but drove to the hospital’s office. He told the general manager that one of the mental patients was running a planter through an alfalfa sod field and needed to be locked up. The general manager later related the story to Smith.

Wait, there’s more to the story.

Sometime in late July, the farmer told the hospital manager that the corn no-tilled into the sod was looking darned good and maybe it would be OK to let the patient out of lockup.

    — November 1972 No-Till Farmer

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