Constantly Building On No-Till Success

South Dakota farmers Pat and Chris Breen take no-till practices that work a step farther to maximize the benefits.

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NAME: Pat Breen

LOCATION: Seneca, S.D.


ACRES: 7,000 acres

CROPS: Corn, soybeans, spring wheat and sunflowers

I’ve had 25 years to refine my no-till system, but I’m nowhere near settling into a comfortable groove. My philosophy is to keep pushing my system to get more yield, use my inputs more efficiently and make life easier for myself and my son, Chris, who farms with me.

Not everyone agrees with the changes I’ve made over the years, but I do what I think is right for my farm.

In fact, when I made a major change to my fertility system I had to get a new agronomist because the one I had just wouldn’t get on board.

I’ve also endured some judgment from the neighbors — especially when I first tried no-till.

‘Plain As Day’

Unlike those that hide their initial no-till experiments on the back 40, my first no-till field was front and center along the highway. I used an old Kinze planter to no-till corn into 12-inch-tall wheat stubble. It didn’t even have trash whippers on it, so you could hardly see that I’d been in the field.


In fact, some thought I just hadn’t planted. One neighbor drove by the field every day wondering when I was going to get around to it, until about July 4 when the corn started peeking out over the wheat stubble.

While my neighbors thought I’d lost my mind, I came out looking pretty good that…

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Martha mintz new

Martha Mintz

Since 2011, Martha has authored the highly popular “What I’ve Learned About No-Till” series that has appeared in every issue of No-Till Farmer since August of 2002.

Growing up on a cattle ranch in southeastern Montana, Martha is a talented ag writer and photographer who lives with her family in Billings, Montana.

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