Slain Illinois No-Tillers Remembered

The No-Tilling Community tragically lost two members on Friday, May 31, including one of the youngest no-tillers in the country.

Harold Tennant, 46, and his 16-year-old son, Eric, were beaten to death with a baseball bat inside their Will County, Ill., farmhouse. Harold’s daughter, Sara, 19, and a family friend, Jean Bookwater, 46, were also beaten to death before the farmhouse was burned. Sara’s ex-boyfriend, Brian Nelson, later confessed to the killings and setting the fire.

If you’ve attended any of the past four National No-Tillage Conferences, you probably met Harry and Eric Tennant. At 12 years of age, Eric convinced his dad, an insurance agent, to start no-tilling the family farm. A year later, the father-and-son team started attending the National No-Tillage Conference to pick up new ideas.

Using an idea picked up at the conference, Eric found that subsoiling was worth an extra 35 bushels per acre in additional no-till corn yields. He shared this money-making tip the next year with National No-Tillage Conference attendees and was featured in an August, 2000, subsoiling article in No-Till Farmer. This subsoiling article is available on the No-Till Farmer Web site at http// NTF_Welcome/Editor_s_Choice/13_Years_Old/13_years_old.html.

Since local school district officials refused to give Eric time off to attend the conference, he usually attended with non-excused school days. Both Eric and Harold will be greatly missed at future conferences by attendees and the No-Till Farmer staff.


  • One of the first farmers in Western Canada to no-till his entire farm, Jim…
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