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Name: Jack Rigby, (Operates Montrig Farms with son Stephen and wife Donna)
Location: Blenheim, Ontario, Canada.
Years Of No-Tilling: 26
Acres No-Tilled: 1,000
Crops No-Tilled: Field corn, seed corn, seed soybeans, tofu soybeans, crusher beans, wheat, navy beans, canola, winter wheat.‘
Moldboard plowing, lots of secondary tillage and costly, environmentally damaging soil erosion were natural partners on our land in the late 1970s. At that time, I was taking over the family farm located on the Canadian side of Lake Erie, about 60 miles east of Detroit.
We have a relatively long growing season in the Rondeau Bay watershed, and a moderate winter climate, thanks in part to effects of the lake.
As a result we can grow just about any crop produced in North America except citrus. If you look at a map, you might be surprised to see we are actually located at the same latitude as northern California.
But we have our challenges, too. The terrain is rolling, with soils ranging from fine sands to sandy loams, and very vulnerable to water erosion and leaching. The turning point that made us consider no-tilling was a 4-inch rain that fell in about half an hour during the spring of 1981. The tremendous damage caused by that single storm convinced us that if we didn’t find alternatives to extreme tillage, we soon wouldn’t have any productive land to farm.
Our first reduced-tillage efforts were pretty simple. We direct seeded wheat with a grain drill…