Editor’s Note: This month’s article in the “Your No-Till History” series is a column from an all-new book coming from No-Till Farmer this summer. Frankly Speaking assembles the “best of the best” columns from Frank Lessiter’s 50-plus years covering no-till’s advancements.

While many readers think of Keeton seeding attachments and similar units on the market as seed firmers or seed firming devices, this column will explain the reasoning behind our decision to start calling them by their generic name.

I’ll also share my opinions as to why it irritates me to see lawyers hassle our staff, National No-Tillage Conference speakers and attendees over something that doesn’t mean a hill of beans to you. Plus our staff doesn’t appreciate it when lawyers attempt to tell our conference speakers what ideas they can and can’t share with you.

Just because one firm doesn’t agree with the way another planter’s seeding attachment is designed and built doesn’t give them any right to declare war on anyone speaking at the National No-Tillage Conference. While I’ve seen hard feelings from 1998-2001 regarding this planter attachment situation at our conference from one side, it’s time for these folks to get over it. The issue is blown out of proportion, represents building a mountain out of a mole hill, is putting too many dollars in the pockets of lawyers and isn’t a hassle that anyone needs to deal with at the National No-Tillage Conference. 

Here’s What Happened

In September 2000, I asked Paul Schaffert, a veteran no-tiller and the owner of Schaffert Manufacturing Co. in Indianola, Neb., to talk at the 2001 conference about seeding accuracy. The inventor of the Rebounder Furrow V Closer planter attachment has worked with no-tillers around the country to find novel ways to place seed in the ground more efficiently.

So I was surprised when he called to tell me about a letter received from an attorney stating that he’d better think twice about presenting the information that was included in the conference program. 

Well, Guess What?

Schaffert didn’t write the paragraphs in the conference program that described what he was going to say. Since I wrote the material off the top of my head, I guess I’m the culprit.

This reminds me of the time I wrote an article in which I stated a farmer stopped for a Coke. The Coke attorneys later wrote to me and stated that I had to refer to it as Coca-Cola. I wrote that this would never happen again, as I’d state anyone who sipped a soft drink in future stories was drinking Pepsi. I never heard from their attorneys again.


Featuring Frank Lessiter’s most influential No-Till Farmer columns from 1972 to present, Frankly Speaking is a non-whitewashed account of no-till’s trials, tribulations and triumphs. You can take advantage of a special pre-order price of this over 650-page book of no-till history for a discounted price of $39 plus shipping and handling. Personally signed copies by Frank are also available at no extra charge. Add Frankly Speaking to your library, and give as a gift or Father’s Day present. To reserve your pre-publication copy of Frankly Speaking, visit No-TillFarmer.com/Frankly or call 262-782-4480.

But Wait, There’s More!

If this legalese wasn’t enough, a threat in the letter really irritated me. The attorney stated that the National No-Tillage Conference presentation would be monitored in one manner or another on their client’s behalf. Yet nobody representing the law firm, manufacturer or distributor paid the $194 conference fee. I hope they didn’t break the law by not paying to monitor this session.

I checked the people attending this session to see if I could spot a spy. As a result, I’ve got a pretty good idea of how they monitored the session. And I’m sure their spy reported no trade secret was violated.

One Question?

Should I invoice the law firm $194 for registration at the conference because they were going to monitor the session? In the meantime, you’ll hopefully know what we’re talking about when we refer to these units generically rather than by their brand name.  

The 2024 No-Till History Series is supported by Calmer Corn Heads. For more historical content, including video and multimedia, visit No-TillFarmer.com/HistorySeries.