From country to country, lawmakers are implementing restrictions that affect the way no-tillers go about their business.

On the most recent installment of No-Till Farmer’s Ask the Operator Series, Loran Steinlage talked with a global panel representing farmers from four continents. The panel featured German no-tiller Alexander Klümper, Australian no-tiller Tom Robinson and Thailand-based agribusiness consultant Tim Welsh. One key issue that these no-tillers are facing is navigating political restrictions and regulations directly affecting their farming practices.


Klümper says that while restrictions in Germany and the European Union can be frustrating, in many cases farmers are somewhat used to them already.

“We always have trouble with the glyphosate issue,” Klümper says. “This year, we are allowed to use it. Next year, we don’t know.”

He says the media is constantly pushing stories about how glyphosate is doing damage to insects and the environment. Another part of the government’s concern is food contamination. But Klümper says that’s not a valid concern, and it isn’t very plausible to eliminate glyphosate for most farmers in his region of eastern Germany.

“We use glyphosate differently than other countries,” Klümper says. “We use it one time before or after seeding because we don’t have GMOs and we don’t have Roundup Ready crops. There is no possibility in Europe that glyphosate gets into your food, but for whatever reason, they are still discussing it. Just the other day the government said there is no reason to ban it, but unfortunately, we have a Green Party right now in our government.

“Germany has started putting special restrictions on areas near water and banning glyphosate usage in certain regions.”

This has forced farmers in those areas to do more tillage, which has led to more nitrates in the water. Klümper says a law is being discussed that would ban fertilizers and pesticides in certain reserve areas of the country.

“If that happens, it will force us to do organic farming with lots of tillage and plowing,” Klümper says. “All these reserve areas make up about half of the country.”

Half of Klümper’s farm is also in the area that would be affected by these restrictions.

“It’s the half that has my best soils where I make the most profit,” Klümper says. “If it goes through, I honestly don’t know if I will continue farming."

While European law is above German law, Klümper still does not know what European lawmakers will decide.


In Australia, the relationship between farmers and the government is much different, according to Robinson.

“The trade off here is that we don’t get any help from our government with subsidies, but at the same time, they leave us alone, and we don’t have many restrictions,” Robinson says. “We pay a fair bit in tax if we make a good profit, but in turn, we have pretty standard regulations, rather than a whole bunch of restrictions.”

Robinson says the government in Australia has threatened to ban live exporting of animals like sheep and cattle, which could cause some problems down the road. But for the most part, Robinson says he feels lucky that this is the only restriction he can think of that might cause any issues for farmers.

Southeast Asia

In Southeast Asia, the biggest government-related issue that farmers face has much more to do with climate change than anything else, according to Welsh. He says because farmers make up such a high percentage of the population, it is harder for the government to impose restrictions because it will have such a massive impact on the country.

“In Thailand, probably at least 40% of the population is farming,” Welsh says. “And on average they’re farming maybe 5-10 acres. They’re not focused on farming as a business. It’s just the way of life.”

Welsh says this has a direct impact on what the government can do with policy changes and introducing new technology.

“The general introduction of new technology just takes time because of that,” Welsh says, “so educational problems have become prevalent.”

Because of record heat and other issues related to climate change, the government is trying to introduce new legislation to cut down on burning rice fields. Welsh says the government has already made moves to cut down on burning sugar cane, a major crop in Southeast Asia.

“The government implemented policy through the sugar mills and gave incentives to stop the burning,” Welsh says. “They brought in a lot of sugar cane harvesters and mechanized harvesting machines from Australia and the U.S. It’s helped a lot. But that’s just one crop out of many in the country, so they are looking at doing something similar about the rice burning problem.”

Despite the variety of situations across these different parts of the world, everyone agreed on the resiliency of farmers, a group that has the confidence to make adjustments when necessary.

“It’s always interesting to me to compare different perspectives from around the world and see how it’s going in different areas,” Klümper says. “In the end, us farmers always share a lot of similar ideas and perspectives.”

Martin Industries 30 years

The No-Till Passport series is brought to you by Martin Industries.

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Since 1991, Martin Industries has designed, manufactured and sold leading agriculture equipment across the U.S. and Canada. Known for Martin-Till planter attachments, the company has expanded to include a five-step planting system, closing wheel systems, twisted drag chains, fertilizer openers and more in their lineup. Their durable and reliable planter attachments are making it possible for more and more farmers to plant into higher levels of residue.

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