Keith Saxton, a champion for no-till and the Cross Slot no-till opener design, passed away July 30 after suffering from health issues over the last few years. He was 85 years old.

In 1986-87, Saxton became the first person to bring the Cross Slot technology into the U.S. Unlike other no-till openers, the Cross Slot openers leave residue directly over the seeded rows with almost no in-row soil disturbance. This is accomplished by using horizontal (inverted T-shaped) seed slots, rather than the vertical slots found on most no-till drills and planters.

"He had been in Australia on a sabbatical from Washington State University, and someone told him that he needed to go over to New Zealand to see what this mad scientist John Baker was doing," says Gavin Porter, CEO and director of Cross Slot North America. "On his return to Pullman, Wash., he was able to convince his boss, Dr. Bob Papendick, that they needed to get the technology for trials at WSU."

Saxton conducted much of the research work that dealt with adopting the Cross Slot technology for North American conditions. He worked at adopting the technology for extremely dry conditions faced by growers no-tilling in the northwestern states and the prairie provinces of western Canada. He was also a major contributor to the FAO commissioned book, “No-tillage Seeding in Conservation Agriculture." 

Prior to doing engineering consulting specializing in no-till, Saxton spent 42 years with the Soil Conservation service (starting at age 17) and as an engineer for the USDA.

Read his full obituary here.

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