What I've Learned From No-Tilling: Bill Richards — The Grandfather Of No-Till

Richards worked with a who’s who of no-till innovators to help refine the systems used in many no-till fields today.

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NAME: Bill Richards

LOCATION: Centerville, Ohio


ACRES: 3,000

CROPS: Corn and Soybeans

Somewhere along the line I earned the title ‘Grandfather of No-Till’ and I suppose after more than 50 years in the game the name fits.

Ironically, I didn’t grow up farming. My wife, Grace, and I both always wanted to farm. When I graduated from The Ohio State University in 1954 we bought a run-down 325-acre farm together.

I borrowed used equipment for free off of my Dad’s John Deere dealership lot, which really helped to keep costs down in the beginning. Despite low machinery costs, the first few years were a struggle due to my experimenting.

My college professors taught me that the only reason to till was to control weeds. Atrazine just so happened to come out right about the time I started farming so I began working on planting without tilling.


The equipment wasn’t available, so I created my own and reached out to others for help. The first thing I tried was putting a 2-row planter behind a moldboard plow. The next try was a 4-row planter behind a disc. Both of those ideas were disasters.

We didn’t have enough power and we didn’t get the stands. By that time, however, we had attracted the attention of Gordon Ryder, an OSU State Extension agent, and Glover Triplett, the OSU researcher who coined the term ‘no-till.’

Ryder developed the idea of planting into a stale seedbed. Around 1958 I…

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Martha Mintz

Contributing Editor

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