100_2744.jpg

What I've Learned From No-Tilling: No-Till’s First Curious Neighbor

For Malcolm Oatts, 4 decades of protecting his farm’s topsoil has rewarded him with more fertile fields and higher yields.

Check The Specs...

NAME: Malcolm Oatts

LOCATION: Hopkinsville, Ky.

YEARS NO-TILLING: 45

ACRES: 880

CROPS: Corn, Soybeans, Wheat

I had the good fortune of commanding a front-row seat to the first toddling steps for no-till farming.

Living just 15 minutes down the road from the father of no-till, Harry Young, I was able to watch firsthand as he adapted and adjusted the system to make it work on his farm.

At the time I worked at a John Deere dealership as an equipment salesman. Mr. Young was no-tilling with a little 2-row planter. I tried to get the company interested in the planter and build one, but they just wouldn’t do it.

There came a point where I could see the benefits and wanted to try no-tilling myself. My brother was an excellent welder, so we decided to build our own no-till planter. We took a John Deere planter, welded a bar in front of the planter units and mounted coulters on it.

The disc coulters splintered the soil, cutting a trench for the planter units to drop into. In those days planter units weren’t strong enough to go into the hard ground on their own. We used regular plow coulters.

Our little patched-together unit worked just fine — as long as we were driving in a straight line. The coulters were quite a distance from the row units, so as soon as we’d turn a little the coulters and row units wouldn’t line up.

The row units just couldn’t…

To view the content, please subscribe or login.
 Premium content is for our Digital-only and Premium subscribers. A Print-only subscription doesn't qualify. Please purchase/upgrade a subscription with the Digital product to get access to all No-Till Farmer content and archives online. Learn more about the different versions and what is included.

Martha-mintz-new

Martha Mintz

Since 2011, Martha has authored the highly popular “What I’ve Learned About No-Till” series that has appeared in every issue of No-Till Farmer since August of 2002.


Growing up on a cattle ranch in southeastern Montana, Martha is a talented ag writer and photographer who lives with her family in Billings, Montana.

Top Articles

Current Issue

Cover_NTF_December_1219_198w.jpg

No-Till Farmer

Get full access NOW to the most comprehensive, powerful and easy-to-use online resource for no-tillage practices. Just one good idea will pay for your subscription hundreds of times over.

View More

Must Read Free Eguides

Download these helpful knowledge building tools

View More
Top Directory Listings