COTTON CAN. No-till and cover crops have allowed Tom Cannon of Blackwell, Okla., to capitalize on the 10 inches of moisture he receives beyond what’s necessary to grow a wheat crop. To his surprise, cotton has become his No. 1 cash crop, even in drought conditions.

Even in a Serious Drought, Soil Never Rests on No-Tiller’s Farm

Once-aspiring microbiologist pampers soil microbiome to push production.

Drought like we've never seen settled on our farm in north central Oklahoma in 2022. It’s the most severe drought in this area since records started more than 100 years ago. Still, we’re going to be right at break-even thanks to crop insurance, alternative markets, crop diversity and the resiliency of our soils. 

This past year was a testament to our soil health. When we’re asked how much rain we got, we can rightly say, “We got it all.” The water infiltration rate in many of our no-till fields is approaching that of the surrounding native prairie. Water doesn’t run off. Our fields can take a 5-inch rain and put it right into the soil profile where it’s held in reserve for growing forage and crops. Big rains don’t go to filling ponds at our place.

Keeping all the moisture in the soil is like money in the bank and has been a major factor in keeping us profitable year after year — even if it’s only by a very small amount in years like 2022. 

That certainly wasn’t the case when I left college. I was studying biology to take over the farm when my dad, Larry, was severely injured in a car accident. 


Check The Specs...

NAME: Tom Cannon

LOCATION: Blackwell, Okla.

ACRES: 7,000


CROPS: Cotton, wheat, corn, soybeans, milo and cover crop seed

PRIMARY SOIL TYPE: Sand to heavy clay


IRRIGATION: Yes (600 acres)

LIVESTOCK: 100-200 pairs (down to 45…

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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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