The 2023 National No-Tillage Conference felt like a return to what most attendees had grown accustomed to before the Covid-19 pandemic.
While the 2020 and 2021 conferences were still successful in helping no-tillers share innovative ideas with each other, this year’s event brought more than 850 people together in one place and felt like a much needed return to the National No-Tillage Conference’s mission to provide an industry-leading and insightful no-till education.
The industry leaders who spoke at the 2023 conference included Gregg Sauder, Randy Dowdy, Marion Calmer, Ray Archuleta, Rob Saik, David Hula, Russell Hedrick and many others.
From intimate roundtable discussions to medium-sized classroom presentations all the way to the general sessions with hundreds of people in one ballroom, no-tillers from around the world educated each other and learned from those who do it best.
Soil Health Imperatives
Ray Archuleta, a No-Till Innovator who many refer to as the “godfather of soil health,” gave a moving presentation to a full house about regenerative agriculture and the power of the plant.
Archuleta stressed four key points throughout his presentation, starting with the “connectedness” of everything in the natural system.
“Everything you do on the farm is connected, and the impact is incredible,” Archuleta says.
POWER OF THE PLANT. No-Till Innovator Ray Archuleta addresses a packed crowd at one of the final general sessions of the 2023 National No-Tillage Conference. Michaela Paukner/No-TillFarmer
Archuleta stressed that the soil is alive, pointing out that it breathes, reproduces and runs on intelligent design. He showed a video of plants breathing using their stomata, the microscopic pores of plant tissue that allow for gas exchange, and explained how plants capture carbon from the air and use it to grow.
Archuleta’s third key point is one of his biggest philosophies. He wants every no-tiller to know that the goal is not simply to no-till or to use cover crops, which he considers tools. The goal, he says, is to mimic or emulate nature’s principles and patterns.
“Our goal is not no-till — it is to emulate the incredible design of nature,” Archuleta says.
Archuleta believes regeneration starts with the mind and the heart, and a farmer must be willing to change their pre-existing ideas and thoughts. He pointed out the massive accomplishments of another National No-Tillage Conference speaker, Russell Hedrick, as an example of changing the mindset about farming to protect agriculture’s future. Hedrick, a first-generation farmer from Hickory, N.C., broke the dryland corn yield world record in 2022 by using regenerative practices and acting as a farmer-scientist, rather than relying on anecdotal evidence about how a no-tiller “should” farm.
“Why do we have a young man like Russell Hedrick and other farmers that stick out more than others? Why are they so different from a lot of other producers? Are they any smarter? No. Their mindset is different,” Archuleta says.
Small Group Success
In addition to general session presentations, no-tillers, industry pros and researchers led 23 classroom sessions at the 2023 conference. Topics ranged from addressing nutrient stratification in no-till soils, using precision technology to make data-driven decisions, planting green, regenerative agriculture as it relates to high yields and boosting nutrient cycling with microbes.
One of the most popular classroom presentations featured 2022 Leopold Award winner Joel Reddick of Bardwell, Ky., and the lessons he’s learned since going “all-in” on no-till 6 years ago. This was just one of several classrooms that garnered so much interest from attendees that not everyone could find a seat.
“Our goal is not no-till — it is to emulate the incredible design of nature…” – Ray Archuleta
In his presentation, Reddick showed all of his soil health tests and data that he has collected over the past several years from his farm. He stressed the importance of collecting data and learning from what is happening on your farm.
Attendees also participated in a total of 45 roundtable discussions on topics ranging from sidedressing strategies, combine residue management, double-cropping and much more.
These roundtables ranged from as many as 48 people to as few as an intimate 5-person group, and a volunteer moderator with experience in the particular topic area led each discussion.
Exclusive Early Bird Tech Talks
Those who arrived at NNTC ahead of the official kickoff were given the opportunity to attend Tech Talks moderated by No-Till Innovator alum and No-Till Farmer Legend Randall Reeder, a retired ag engineer at Ohio State University and leader of the Ohio Conservation Tillage Conference.
These sessions gave attendees the chance to gain valuable no-till product and application knowledge. The presentations examined a different no-till solution, followed by a Q&A session where attendees can get clarification or ask follow-ups about any of the points made during the presentations.
Lucky Prize Winners
Several attendees went home with a variety of prizes from No-Till Farmer and National No-Tillage Conference Sponsors. Congratulations to the following winners:
- Steven Fennig of Bryant, Ind., moderated a roundtable and won a free registration to the 2024 National No-Tillage Conference.
- Daniel Ryan, Silex, Mo., won a free registration to the 2024 National No-Tillage Conference raffled off to a 2023 attendee.
- Dan Potthast, Breese, Ill., won the "No-Till Kitchen Sink," a package of all the books and special reports published by No-Till Farmer.
- Keith Crossley of Emmett, Idaho, won a Yeti cooler from Laforge.
- Brandon Dirnberger of Oran, Mo., won a $300 gift certificate for Exapta products from Exapta.
- Bob Recker of Waterloo, Iowa, won 5 gallons of Bio Reverse ($375 value) from The Andersons.
- Tim Kurz of Vandalia, Mo., won a set of seed openers for his planter from Wearparts.
- Ross Bishop of Jackson, Wis., won a flat-screen TV donated by Verge Ag.
The 2024 National No-Tillage Conference will take place in Indianapolis, Indiana, from January 9-January 12. Register online at notillconference.com before Aug. 31, 2023, and receive the discounted Early Bird Rate.
Watch 2023 NNTC Presentations on Demand
Check back with no-tillfarmer.com in early March for replays of key sessions and highlights from the 2023 NNTC. Additional information about and key takeaways from the speakers’ presentations will also be available on no-tillfarmer.com and in print issues of No-Till Farmer throughout the rest of the year.