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While some farmers are driven purely to make a buck, you might say that David Uchtmann is driven to get a buck.
While this no-tiller from Sparta, Ill., is farming to earn a living, deer hunting — as well as quail and turkey hunting — is a passion for this 1,500-acre no-tiller from southern Illinois.
Uchtmann also expresses a deep concern for protecting the soils on his rolling farmland. Even having no-tilled for 25 years, erosion can be a problem.
Instead of producing corn, soybeans or wheat on his marginal land, Uchtmann has added filter strips, built grass waterways, designed quail habitats and hauled in ditch-check rock to protect the land from which he makes a living.
“I can’t understand why we take this marginal land and put it into production,” the vice president and past President of the Southern Illinois No-Tillers Association says. “While my mindset came about before the ethanol craze and this current run-up in crop prices — and while there may be some potential now with $5 or higher corn — that won’t last for long.”
Instead, Uchtmann — who was encouraged to no-till by Mike Plumer, Extension field agronomist from the University of Illinois — has kept about 240 acres of land out of crop production.
Uchtmann has planted about 80 acres of filter strips on field edges where the potential for runoff is high.
“There’s an environmental aspect to them because they filter any water overflow,” he says. “They create…