Marcus Huffman farms over 2,000 acres of cropland located in Logan County near the small town of Auburn. His operation consist of a corn, wheat, and double cropped soybean rotation and a corn and soybean rotation.
All crops are no-tilled on a continuous basis from the farms wet-natured soils (Sadler/Zanesville) to the well-drained red limestone hills (Talbott/Pembroke).
Marcus Huffman, no-till in Auburn, Ky. (Kentucky NRCS photo)
Mr. Huffman started no-tilling soybeans into wheat in the late 1970s. Shortly thereafter, he no-tilled full season soybeans and corn. He then started no-tilling wheat and barley in the late 1990s.
It took longer to adapt this practice, compared to other crops, because of at the time, diseases which today can almost be eliminated with proper management.
He began no-tilling for conservation reasons, to reduce labor and machinery costs.
Today, he no-tills for those same benefits and has come to find no-till produces as good or better yields and continually improves the soil.
Mr. Huffman had his problems in the beginning when he started using no-till. Seed placement, depth, spacing, and soil temperature were some of the barriers he faced.
Some landlords took it seriously when we called it ugly farming. He has learned to pay attention to details just like you would in a conventional tillage system. He makes minor changes each year to make improvements to the system.
He also realizes that Johnson grass was a great problem and now there are controls for it.
"As far as our part of the country, no-till gets better every year," he says. "The benefits of straight no-till are endless and include reduced soil erosion and runoff, reduced labor and machinery, and improved soil quality.
"Anyone wanting to try no-till needs to study, start small, and give it a chance. If others haven’t tried no-till yet, they may have not researched all the benefits."
In 2010, he won 1st place in the district four no-till yield contest in Kentucky. He was recognized in 2009 by The Kentucky State Corn Growers Association for pacing 3rd in the nation in the no-till corn yield contest. In 2007 he was awarded the Master Conservationist award by the Logan County Conservation District.
"Being a good steward of the land doesn’t mean lost profitability," he says.