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What I've Learned From No-Tilling: Growing An Equipment Concept In The Heart Of No-Till Country

Kentucky farmer Howard Martin invented row-cleaner attachments that set off a decades-long expansion of no-till practices in the U.S. and built up a business from humble beginnings.

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NAME: Howard Martin Business: Martin Industries

LOCATION: Elkton, Ky.

YEARS MAKING NO-TILL Equipment: 22

When i was trying to start my business, I had no particular skills that would qualify me for such — nothing but a desire to get out of the tobacco patch.

But a lot of things, fortunately, have gone my way that could have gone the other way.

Today, Martin Industries has grown to 40 employees as we make row cleaners, fertilizer openers, closing wheels, gauge wheels and other no-till row-unit tools at six different shops.

Our planter attachments have become standard additions for many no-till planters and drills throughout the U.S., and we supply equipment to more than 1,500 dealers in 38 states and four countries.

We’ve had several expansions since the company was founded, and we’ve learned how to represent our brand as we faced early challenges getting products to equipment dealers and customers.

The Early Days

Primarily, I got what I call a farm-magazine agricultural education. When I was younger, I lived in a little tenant house over on a farm back in the Kentucky hills.

I would read Farm Quarterly over and over. I also read the university publications religiously.

Of course, I was always reading and wanting to be something that I wasn’t capable of being. I’ve always been over my nose, up to my eyeballs and had jobs bigger than I was.

What shaped me was my father, who was one of the first soil-conservation district supervisors…

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