Name: Mike Wolpert
JOB: Operates Wolpert Farms, Inc., with wife, Dr. Jeanne K. Bailey
Location: Buffalo, W. VA.
Number Of Years In Permanent No-Tilling: 9
Acres: 1,300 To 2,200, depending on land leases
No-Tilled Crops: Corn, soybeans, Wheat and alfalfa
It took me almost 12 years to learn that you can’t dabble with no-tilling. You either have to commit 100 percent or forget about it.
In 1981, when I bought a John Deere 7000 planter, I had the dealer install no-till coulters. I wasn’t really sure why and as a result I didn’t make the required commitment. Over the next several years, no-till was hit and miss. It seemed like I’d be really successful no-tilling one year, but after the next crop I’d cuss it out and swear I was going back to plowing.
During a really wet season about 10 years ago, my wife watched as I tilled the muddy fields over and over. When she asked why I was beating the soil to death, I really didn’t have a good answer.
She challenged me to make no-till work. From her perspective, all the plowing, discing and other labor-intensive efforts it took for conventional farming just didn’t make sense. She maintained that we shouldn’t have to work the ground over and over to make it produce.
I started attending no-till meetings, talking to other no-tillers and doing a lot of reading. I was determined to learn why no-till worked great for me some years and not…