When remembering the life and lessons of the late Dave Brandt, no-tillers recall the Carroll, Ohio, No-Till Legend’s passion for educating other farmers, his humble demeanor and his great kindness to all.

Brandt died unexpectedly May 20 as a result of injuries from a severe vehicle crash. The “godfather” of cover crops, soil health and regenerative agriculture made a lasting impact on agriculture since the earliest days of his farming career.

Early Innovator

Brandt began farming in 1971 and imported the first known no-till drill into the U.S. in 1975 — a Moore seeder from Ireland. In 1978, he started running a 1,150-acre corn, soybean and wheat operation, and planted his first cover crop.

"When I planted my first cover crop — cereal rye — in 1978 to control erosion on poorly drained, hilly clay soils, I had no idea what the full ramifications of that decision would be," Brandt said in an article reflecting on what was then 30 years of using covers. "Since then, cover crops have become the anchor of a diverse crop rotation in our continuous no-till system."

Brandt received numerous awards for his conservation practices, including the Ohio Conservation Educator Award from the Ohio No-Till Council, Ohio State University South Center's Supporter of the Year, Ohio Agriculture's Man of the Year, the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation Distinguished Service to Agriculture Award and Ohio NRCS Soil Conservationist Partnership and State Volunteer Awards. In 2008, No-Till Farmer recognized Brandt in its first class of Responsible Nutrient Management Practitioners for his use of cover crops to reduce inputs. Brandt also received the No-Till Innovator Award for crop production in 2015.

Humble Educator

Brandt spoke to farmers at countless events across the U.S., including many National No-Tillage Conferences, always sharing a wealth of practical and low-input cost ideas used on his own farm to increase no-till profitability. Numerous no-tillers, cover croppers and industry experts looked to Brandt as a mentor and innovator.

In June, No-Till Farmer asked readers to share their favorite memory of Brandt and how he impacted their operation. Dozens of readers wrote in, all touched by Brandt’s teachings in some way, whether they had met him in person or not. Here are some of their responses. To read more memories and leave your own comments, visit no-tillfarmer.com/brandt.

If you’d like to make a donation in Brandt’s name to support no-till education, the family requests it be sent to No-Till on the Plains, 672 Avenue L, Protection, KS 67127. Write “David Brandt Memorial” in the memo. Online donations can be made at notill.org/supportdonate.

I've crossed paths with David three different times the past couple years when I somehow ended up at the same events sitting at the same table. I got to shake his hand, and for anyone who has had that opportunity, you'll understand his honest work. The biggest impact David had on our operation is to value your time here, share information between farmers in the community, and educate and help others. 

At our first speaking engagement at the 2023 National No-Tillage Conference (NNTC), I told my wife, DeAnna, that no one's going to be interested in our trash can full of microorganisms, but in walks Mr. David Brandt and sits in the front row, and on the other side of the room sat Keith Thompson. I thought, "OK, now I'll talk if these guys are taking the time to listen."

I never got to meet David's wife, Kendra, but I knew he missed her. At NNTC, we went to lunch with David, and at lunch, David looks me in the eyes and points his finger at DeAnna and says, "You take care of her." Then he pauses, and his eyes begin to tear up. He's still looking me in the eyes, but now he's pointing his finger at me. And when David Brandt is pointing his finger at you, you're listening, let me tell you. He continues with, "because you're going to miss her when she's gone." It's that kind of advice that David was willing to share.

After that event, David invited us to his farm, which was an amazing experience. After David's field day, the Brandt family presented us a handmade quilt called "Night Star" made by the Brandt family and quilted by Kendra. What an act of true genuine kindness that was.  

I remember when Steve Groff messaged our group about David's passing. I didn't know what to do or what to say. So I did what I do best. I grabbed that handmade quilt, put it in a duffle bag, threw it over my shoulder, walked out to the field and climbed up in my tractor cab. I took out that quilt and strapped it the buddy seat of my tractor. I turned the key to fire up that C-18 Caterpillar diesel engine, turned off the radio, put the tractor in gear and dropped the clutch. I said, "David, let's go no-till wheat with genetics from the 1800s bio-primed with IMOS into 40-inch tall stripper stubble with no added fertility." I could still hear his laughter, just like at his field day when the first shovel full of soil came out of that long-term no-till Ohio field and was loaded with earthworm eggs. As I sat in the tractor cab in silence that day no-tilling wheat, soon the sun came to settle on the horizon, and I came to realize that there is a little bit of David Brandt that lives in each and every one of us. It's up to us now to let the world know, that out here in God's country, David Brandt "the legend" lives on.  

— Kelly Lozensky, Max, N.D.

Kelly and I met David in person at the 2023 National No-Tillage Conference (NNTC) in St. Louis. Kelly and I were presenting together for the very first time, and as if we weren’t nervous enough, David walked in and sat in the very front row. Of course, we knew who he was and had followed him for years, but we finally met after the presentation. He was so kind to encourage us to continue to carry our message for soil health. 

Shortly after meeting David at NNTC, the Brandts asked us to present IMOS at their field day in April. We had the honor of presenting at David’s field day and getting one-on-one time with him. We knew it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to learn from one of the greats, and it did not disappoint. The Brandt family was the most gracious host. David was so willing to share ideas, suggestions and insights with us. We will treasure our time with him always.

— DeAnna Lozensky, Max, N.D.

Dave is the very reason of how my family got to where we are today. I first met Dave back in 2015 at a small cover crop meeting in Kitchener, Ontario. He spoke about his adventures with the no-till and cover crop lifestyle, cracking jokes such as having the sheriff's department come out to his field of sunn hemp thinking that he was growing marijuana or having a red planter instead of a green one so he could find it in the tall standing cover crops when he comes back from lunch.

My father and I were just blown away by what he was doing with cover crops and how much improvement it can do to the soil. Over time, we began to trust more in the cover crops and in the living soil itself. Today I am proud to say we are 100% no-till and have a cover crop in every field, including interseeding into corn. 

I hope to some day start my own cover crop seed business growing, cleaning, advertising and selling cover crops as well passing down the knowledge that has been shared from the pioneers such as Dave. He truly was the godfather of cover crops and an inspiration, leader and perhaps mentor to us all. There is no doubt in my mind that his legacy will be passed on not just through his family, but also through those who shared his passion in helping other farmers through regenerative ag.

— Tyler Sanders, Brussels, Ont., Canada

I started using no-till practices in 2006. In about 2013, I attended a soil health meeting in Lawton, Mich., and Dave was the guest speaker. He was so informative, knowledgeable and down to earth, and he did not hold back any secrets. I started using multi-species cover crops that summer. We have been 100% no-till since the spring of 2018, and I have to thank Dave Brandt and No-Till Farmer for this.

My favorite memories of Dave Brandt are the times we spent together at both the January 2023 National No-Till Conference in St. Louis and at his Brandt Farm Field Day in April 2023. At the St. Louis conference, we sat and visited several different times. In April, he took time out of his busy day to drive me around in his Ranger to show me what he was doing on his farm.

My wife’s favorite memory is at the 2023 National No-Till Conference in St Louis when Dave and I were sitting and talking by a vendor’s booth, and the vendor returned to the booth and asked if Dave and I were brothers. Dave answered yes.

I would like to request that at the 2024 National No-Tillage Conference we have a “Bibs Day” in honor of Dave Brandt.  I wore bibs at the 2023 National No-Tillage Conference and Dave told me he wished he would have packed his bibs like I did because he’d be a lot more comfortable.  RIP Dave Brandt — you changed the world of farming!

— Mark Hacker, Athens, Mich.

My favorite memory of Dave Brandt is the man he was. He truly followed the mantra "God, family, farm." His prayers before meals that we shared were so heartfelt and were simply Dave thanking his Father in Heaven. He was so proud of all his family. I loved the updates on each of them whenever we talked.

His farm was a labor of love that he shared so freely with anyone and everyone. He loved to put visitors on his side-by-side and drive to the fields around his house to show what he was learning, both good and bad. Last summer, he took my wife and I around to see all his fields, explaining what the Brandt family was facing as far as encroachment of the city and farming logistics. He was a master at adapting his farm, which is something he taught me. “Don’t adopt what I am doing. Adapt it to your farm.” That is one of the main concepts of regenerative farming: adaptability. No 2 years are the same, so you must be willing to change your plans.  

Dave handled being thrust into the spotlight with such grace and humility. Not long after a good friend of ours, Walter Lynn, took us out to visit Dave and walk his fields for the first time, I had a question for him. I took a chance and dialed his number. Dave answered right away, which shocked me. He didn’t know who I was, and yet here he was answering my call! I said as much, and his response was, “Well, of course, I answered. If you called me, you needed something.”   Typical Dave Brandt. Generous, humble, loving servant of God and man. A good man. A better friend.

— Rick Kaesebier, Elkhart, Ill.

I had been to Dave's farm several times and visited on the phone quite a bit. He became a friend and mentor, but I still couldn’t believe when one day he called and said, “I’m going to be in Illinois, and I want to come to your farm and see what you’re doing.”  

I said, “Dave, we’d love to have you, but we’re not doing anything real innovative or new that you haven’t done — just no-till, cover crops and trying to improve soil health.” Dave said, “Don’t matter I want to come anyway."

It just goes to show what a great fella he was that he would take time to visit us, relative nobodies in the soil health world. We were so honored and still can’t believe he’s gone. I still catch myself wanting to pick up the phone and ask him for advice. At our farm, his legacy will live on.

— Jim Ifft, Fairbury, Ill.

Remembering Dave is joy. Every time I think of Dave, I think of the laugh. I bet you can hear that big ol' roar. 

— Loran Steinlage, No-Till Innovator, West Union, Iowa

I'm the executive director of the Ohio No-Till Council, and Dave Brandt was president of that organization for 14 years, and he was on the board all that all that time, close to 30 years. He was always right there when we needed a speaker on no-till or cover crops. In Ohio, he would do anything for us. He was an educator. He helped anyone who asked for assistance or advice; he wanted everyone to succeed. As with any “new practice,” a failure by one farmer can sour an entire county on it.

Nationally, he earned the title “Godfather of Soil Health” and was recognized and adored for his passion for no-till and cover crops. Beyond agriculture, Dave became famous for a meme with his photo (from 2012) with the words, “It ain’t much but it’s honest work.” Many of the articles about his passing referred to that meme in the headline. When I posted all those articles on our Facebook pages or send it out by email, the reactions from people have been amazing — not surprising — but amazing, the tremendous reactions to the legacy of a David Brandt.

— Randall Reeder, No-Till Legend, Hilliard, Ohio

Dave Brandt was a person who influenced many in practicing conservation agriculture. When I think of Dave, I think of someone who was always learning from other farmers, consultants and academics. Dave would then use that knowledge on his own farm and share that knowledge with others. Everyone felt comfortable around Dave because he was such a humble person. Dave’s legacy will carry on for years to come, and we can only hope and pray that there will be others who step forward to fill the void that he has left. I use the plural “others” because it will most certainly take more than one person to fill Dave’s shoes.

— Warren Dick, Wooster, Ohio

I've got a lot of Dave stories, but to give you just one. I've got one that's a little too emotional for me to do, so I'm going do the one where I first met Dave. I got done speaking, and Dave was was going behind me. When he got done, they had to politely ask him to leave the room because the next presenter needed to needed the room to present. He had like 50 people around him, and Dave would stay and and wait until every question was answered. So he and the whole group moved out to the hall. I'm out there in that hall, and I look over and I see all these people around Dave Brandt. So I just kind of stay back, and I'm talking to a couple of people, and Dave gets done, and he's walking down the hall. He's coming right toward me, and he stops and he looks over at me. He says, "Great presentation you did today. I'll be in touch."

Six weeks later, I get this phone call. Of course, I don't have Dave Brant as a contact, so I don't know who the number is. I answer the phone and he says, "Hi, you probably don't know who I am, but this is Dave Brandt." I'm like, "No, Dave, I know who you are who you are," but in any way, he said "Your presentation at the conference was so good that I'm asking your permission to use a couple of your slides," and I'm like "Dave, you can use whatever slides you want to use." When you get a call from from the the godfather of regenerative ag, and he's asking to use a couple of your slides, that just that just meant the world to me. 

Unfortunately, I did not know Dave a long time, really only about 4 years, but in that 4 years, it sure felt like a lifetime. I'm going to miss Dave, and Dave would want all of us to carry on what we're continually doing, educating and teaching folks how to implement the principles of soil health. 

— Rick Clark, Warren County, Ind.

When you ask people who their greatest influence was (on any subject), it will not be some distant author, consultant or professor. It will be one who made a very personal connection with them, encouraged them and helped. 

Dave Brandt made his no-till and cover crop knowledge available to the masses. He was ever-present with fellow farmers at conferences and field days and would travel great distances to help and troubleshoot alongside friends new and old. I’ve watched this legendary farmer/pioneer interact at our conferences, and there was no such thing as a “stranger” to Dave, only friends he had yet to meet. He was approachable, quick to laugh and eager to share his insights and mistakes.

He wasn't on the official speaker agenda for the 2023 National No-Tillage Conference in St. Louis, but he made the conference more memorable for attendees as he sat with them and demonstrated that the no-till learning journey is one that is never finished. 

— Mike Lessiter, President, Lessiter Media, Brookfield, Wis.

We hosted Dave Brandt as our featured speaker for our annual Soil Health Workshop with 100+ local farmers, and I enjoyed his honesty most. It was only to save his farm financially that he began to no-till, soon after learning the full benefits of that decision. Farmers have to make their decisions to stay afloat, and it does not have to come at a cost to the environment. 

At our event, he was honest about the good and the bad years he experienced with covers and no-till, an experience many can relate to given our droughty conditions so far. What anyone can take away from a Dave Brandt discussion is don’t get discouraged at the first hiccup. It’s life, it will happen, and what’s most important is how you adapt with it!

— Katelyn Vogeler, CCA, Ozaukee County, Wis.

David Brandt was an inspiration to many farmers in New York. He first came to New York to the Cover Crop Field Days at the USDA Big Flats Plant Materials Center (PMC) where he, along with Ray Archuleta and myself, reviewed a cover crop demonstration of over 200 plots with multiple species and mixes planted at different dates for a group of over 100 farmers and agricultural professionals.

I can still remember his excitement when he dug into a plot of Austrian winter pea "dripping" with rhizobium nodules. He certainly made an impression on me and many others on that day. Big Flats PMC continued to host field days and cover crop demonstrations for at least 12 years, impacting many farmers, academics and ag professionals. Dave visited New York and Pennsylvania to speak at many more field days at many venues attended by well over 1,000 farmers. His good-natured and practical approach, influence and mentorship will be greatly missed.

— Paul Salon, research agronomist and retired plant materials and soil health specialist for NRCS, Alpine, N.Y.

I came into contact with David over the years as I was employed by NRCS in Logan County, Ohio(which is an hour from David's house), and David worked for the Conservation District promoting no-till through the rental of no-till planters and drills. He would take the drill or planter to the landowner and instruct them how to operate equipment.

I attended several of David's field days and saw how his business and operation grew over the years. David was very passionate about soil health, cover crops and taking care of the soil. He had limited patience for the many that did not share this importance. Through David's drive and determination, he slowly turned many heads of both farmers and university professors into giving more attention to what David was accomplishing on his farm. His views and beliefs of not participating in crop insurance and other government subsidized programs really hit home with me, and I realized how crutched our agricultural system is on these programs.  

I attended David's field days to gain knowledge and to build a stronger degree of confidence that these methods do work and will work. When you were at David's programs, you were amongst farmers who were making it work and believed in the system of regenerative agriculture. When you left his field day, you were back out into an area of skepticism and doubt, and you needed that strong confidence to keep moving forward.     

I invited David to our county during the last year that I worked for NRCS and organized several small workshops throughout the county, and David presented his message.  David stayed overnight with my wife and I, and he shared some stories that reinforced my thoughts that this guy is the Real McCoy, and all we could do is keep attempting to educate and tell the story of regenerative agriculture. To me, the most meaningful tribute we can give David is to continue his work, continue to educate ourselves and others on the many benefits of regenerative agriculture and what it means for the future of our society. We practice those philosophies on our family farm in Logan County and hope to continue for many years to come.  

 — Bob Stoll, retired NRCS, Bellefontaine, Ohio

David Brandt made many invited visits to Kansas No-Till on the Plains (NTOP) conferences. Sometimes his return flight to Ohio was the next day after the conference, so he would be always asked to visit farms between the conference location and the airport. I remember David borrowing my spade and with a half dozen other farmers listening intently and digging in a knee high cover crop mix, complimenting and at the same time giving valuable suggestions for improvements of species to be used between cash crops. Truly a humble man who took time to share his knowledge with anyone who asked.

— Rod Peters, farmer and former board member of NTOP, Marion County, Kan.

Dave and I were friends, as I'm sure he had thousands of. We were same age and could communicate very well with each other (haha). We visited about his doings with the soil, the Vietnam War or just general farming as we did the same kind of farming from dairy to hogs to cattle to organic farming on our part. He was a great and useful and kind man.

— Archie Jennings, Ohio

I had the wonderful opportunity to have dinner with Dave after he spoke at a no-till conference in Vermont just prior to Covid. The thing that struck me about Dave was how he was genuinely interested in our farm and what things we were doing to improve soil health. He was delighted to hear of our success and offered great advice for the challenges we were experiencing. Dave made me feel like just one of the guys at the local coffee shop. 

— Mark Anderson, Eagle Bridge, New York

I first met Dave in February 2011 when our soil and water district, of which I was a board member, hosted a soil health workshop here in our county of Missouri. I talked to David at intermission and explained some of the issues I was having with no-till as I had been been doing that for several years. Dave gave me some pointers, including one which he said plant rye. I stayed a no-tiller, jumped into cover crops and have never looked back.

In August of that year, several producers, including myself, and NRCS personnel jumped into a 12-passenger van and a pickup truck and headed to Ohio for one of Dave’s field days. We did get to spend some time with Dave on a more personal note that day, and I remember him being very happy that we made that trip from Missouri. We purchased some cover crop seed and brought it back to Missouri not knowing what we had or what to do with it. With David‘s guidance, we took the plunge that fall and got it planted after harvest. That was the birth of the pilot cover crop program in Chariton County that was extended 3 years later into the Missouri soil and water cover crop program. I was later honored by NRCS with the Olin Sims award. I have enjoyed giving tours of my farm and having videos filmed here also. We have an FFA soil judging day at our farm every spring. Our soil pits on our farm are changing, but I have a long ways to go before my pits look like Dave’s.

All of the above happened because I listen to Dave Brandt one day. Our yields have increased, how are fertilizer is better placed, and our soil health is improving along with organic matter. A lot of cover crops success and soil health improvement in Missouri has its roots traced back to David Brandt.

 — Kenny Reichert, Bunswick, Mo.

After thinking about what Dave was saying,  I was comfortable trying cover crops. I saw an improvement in drainage on those fields. Eventually I saw that cover crops alone were not enough to correct the damage done to soil structure, so when USDA offered a special CRP sign-up in our county, I enrolled the entire farm for 15 years to have growing plants on it for the entire time. Hopefully this will be long enough for the roots to break up the compaction caused by the corn-soybean rotation of the previous 35 years. I no longer see the water ponding on these fields as when they were tilled. I also now realize the benefit of CRP as a refuge for the beneficial insects that are being killed by the excessive use of insecticides so common on many big farming operations.

Dave opened my thinking to realize the many of the things we do in farming are doing more long-term damage for short-term gain.

— Daniel Hiller, Ada, Ohio

The first time we met David, my wife and I were traveling east, and we called to see if we could stop in at the farm. When we got there, he was very busy but stopped what he was doing, and we got on his side-by-side and toured his farm. He explained the how and whys of his operation. It was a wonderful and educational experience.

Then several years ago, we were done chopping corn silage in late August. I was going to plant barley for a cover crop for erosion control and soil health. Everyone in my area said I should wait 2-3 weeks to plant. I called David and asked him for his advice, and he said two words: "Plant it."  It was a beautiful fall that year, and the barley was about 20 inches in November. We mowed it and baled 3 large round bales per acre of beautiful feed. The stubble greened up again, over wintered, and we planted corn into a 1-foot tall barley cover crop that spring with a beautiful mat of residue on the fields surfaces. I have also learned and continue to learn soil health lessons and information from his many YouTube videos.

— Ken Schoenberg, Hoyleton, Ill.

David was definitely a special man. Over the years, we met up at several no-till meetings, and I always went home with a different perspective. He got me thinking about soil being a biological process, not just chemical. A few years ago, after an evening of visiting about our farm operations, I told David that I feel like a have one foot in soil health practices and one foot out. He will be missed.

— Joe Breker, Havana, N.D.

Dave "walked the talk" about no-till with covers. He proved that it really works on his own farm, and then freely shared his knowledge and farm with everyone.  

— Joseph Kern, Dale, Ind.

I met Dave just a couple of times, but what I most appreciated from him was his friendliness and empathy with other farmers and his compulsion to share his knowledge and experiences freely with everybody. That is how I remember him!

— Rolf Derpsch, No-Till Legend, Asuncion, Paraguay

Dave Brandt was always thrilled to have field days on his own farm. I was there around 2010. To take challenging worked soils to good production was amazing to see on his farm. His "meme" title in society was interesting and hopefully helps consumers seek out good food from regenerative soils.  

— Jonathan Zeiset, Zeiset Ag Consulting, Watsontown, Penn.

Sadly, we were not fortunate to know Mr. Brandt personally, but we loved the opportunity to learn from the man that served his nation, survived and came home to farm in what was truly considered to be “unconventional” in those days. The coffee shop talk must have been off the charts about what this guy was doing. As it turns out, a revolution began all those many years ago. Obviously he was not deterred from trying new things on the farm. He learned from his mistakes and passed on this knowledge to those who were willing to listen and learn.

From the many articles, conferences and videos that are available of Dave's presentations, the transformation of agriculture began and continues to grow. We are truly grateful to the contribution that he made to the agriculture world. When we hear the name Dave Brandt, we see him holding that famous radish and grinning. We are as proud of him as he was of the magnificent radish.

We couldn’t be happier to have a "Godfather of No-Till" like David Brandt. He truly was a man of vision, and someone we would have loved to call a friend.

— Geoffrey and Stacie Morris, Amarillo, Texas

I met Dave Brandt at a no-till meeting in Elkhart, Ind., several years ago. I told him about our uneven emergence in corn that previous spring. He asked me how long I was no-tilling, and I said 26 years with 7 years cover cropping. He told me to take my torch and cut off my no-till coulters. We did what he said and never had that problem since. Less is more sometimes.

— Jed Fought, Rome City, Ind.

Unfortunately, Dave wasn't a close friend, but he did affect me and our operation. I traveled to Dave's farm packed in a van with a group of guys for 10 hours. This was early in my start in cover crops. We were all interested in seeing first hand what Dave had accomplished on his farm.

Talking with Dave, seeing his farm and what he had done really lit the interest fire that I had. He was very polite and answered all my questions. This was a little different than I had expected. I'm used to seeing guys who are ahead of the curve in some area be more tight-lipped and not nearly as approachable. Dave was just about education and sharing in my experience. That day on his farm sparked conversation for the entire ride home and helped form new friendships with fellow passengers.  

In other ways, Dave interacted with MANY people who I discuss soil health with and continue to learn from and with. He played a very big part in the soil health movement and will be remembered as a godfather of the movement. One thing that was simple and stuck was him telling me, "Your land won't get better until you make a change in how you treat it," and he was 100% correct. We can not continue to do the same things we always have and think we are going to improve our land or yields. We MUST try new things to improve.

— Myron Sylling, Spring Grove, Minn.

I only met Dave briefly at the National No-Tillage Conference in St. Louis, but I’ve listened to several podcasts and YouTube videos with him and enjoyed the common sense and practical knowledge in them.

— Dave Crouch, Franklin, Tenn.

He was a true inspiration to me over in England. I can only dream of achieving what he did.

— Andrew Lister, Epworth, Great Britain

I met Dave Brandt the night before the Big Soil Health Event in Iowa in 2021. I didn't know anything about him before that encounter. He was interested in what practices I was starting on my farm, and he told me I will see results sooner then I was expecting to see starting into reduced tillage, no-till and cover crops. The biggest point he gave me was don't get discouraged the first couple of years because not everything shows a positive right away. Start small and figure it out, and then add more acres to the change. He was easy to talk to and very approachable.

— John Weseman, Alpha, Minn.

Dave spoke to a group of organic farmers in Milverton, Ont., about 10 years ago. He got me to thinking that organic could better approach no-till. I’ve been trying to mimic some of his methods ever since. 

— Gerald Poechman, Walkerton, Ont., Canada

I had the pleasure of meeting Dave Brandt on two separate occasions. Dave’s impact on agriculture loomed large, and in my opinion, it will take a community to fill his shoes in terms of the knowledge he had to offer. Aside from Dave inspiring me to want to add diverse cover crops and transition to no-till, Dave’s impact was much more on a human level. Both times I met Dave, he spoke to me like an old friend, meeting me with a smile and curious about my operation. Dave was eager to answer questions and even offered me his phone number if I had questions in the future.

Reflecting on these encounters, Dave was teaching me, just like he taught so many others, the importance of sharing ideas and information with our neighbors and agricultural communities. Dave embodied what it meant to be the American farmer: intuitive, adaptable, selfless, and generous. Anyone who had the honor of meeting Dave undoubtedly walked away a better person, not just a better farmer. Rest in peace, Dave Brandt.

 — Tyler Brause, Sycamore, Ohio

My favorite memory of David Brandt was during the first year I grew cover crops. I was completely new to growing cover crops and had discussed with Dave what cover crop to grow ahead of corn. We decided to plant a multi-species cover crop that included cereal rye. The cover crop had a good start in the fall and very favorable spring weather that resulted in the cereal rye growing to 25-30 inches tall as we were ready to plant corn. This resulted in widespread discussion among the neighbors, and I was in a panic mode on how to deal with the huge growth in the cereal rye, which would soon shade my newly emerged corn.

I called Dave and told him I had not terminated my cover crop early, my cereal rye had gone wild, was 30 inches tall and that I would soon have a major problem with my corn. I'll never forget when Dave very calmly said, "That's what we want, isn't it?" I was completely surprised by his calm response, and my panic immediately started to subside. We then discussed my various options on how to deal with the cereal rye. I was fortunate to live near one of the few farmers in the area with a 30-foot roller crimper, who was generous enough to let me use the roller crimper on my cereal rye shortly after planting corn. All was well. I certainly learned about terminating cover crops ahead of growing corn.

— Dan Cekander, Illinois

While Dave Brandt had such a positive impact on so many in the no-till, cover crop, soil health and regenerative ag space, his ability to make this veteran wildlife biologist stop, grab a spade during a June downpour, and go dig a hole summarizes his personality and passion. I’ll never forget being at the Soil Health Academy in 2019 and sitting in Dave’s barn with the whole crew when the sky suddenly opened up. I noticed Dave hurry out the door to come back about 10 minutes later soaking wet with a shovel full of the most beautiful soil with cover crops still attached. He had that Dave Brandt grin on his face, and he began teaching, “ya know”? Everything ended in “ya know." I’m proud of my college degree; however, I’ll always consider myself lucky to have the opportunity to attend Dave Brandt University, as he called it!

I used to think rain meant run for cover but after observing and listening to Dave that weekend, I know associate rain with running for the “covers”…cover crops, that is! It’s during those moments that we can assess all of our hard work from implementing the soil health principles. Dave is often credited for the incredible work he’s done in the agricultural world and rightfully so. However, the fact that he had such a huge impact on so many in other niches, including wildlife ecology, speaks to his superhuman power to positively impact everyone who was willing to listen with an open mind and question conventional wisdom. 

I feel everyone should know that his teachings and knowledge were infectious for this wildlife ecologist who has focused on regenerative, holistic and systems wildlife management and ecology since putting boots on Dave’s farm!

— Jason R. Snavely, Consulting Wildlife Biologist, Drop-Tine Wildlife Consulting, Bloomsberg, Penn.

I'm an Argentine farmer and farming manager in the region, but farmer first. Although we have long roots in no-till farming, Dave was an inspiration for me. I believe that farmers are the drivers of the structural changes in the industry because farmers are attached to the soil and to long-term business. Dave had all these qualities and transmitted transparency through his own experience. He was a passionate farmer, a conscious farmer, and his business rationale was at the highest business standards.

— Martin Otero, Montevideo, Uruguay

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