No-Till Helps Engineer Balance Off-Farm Career With Farming

Two weeks is all the time this engineer allocates for no-tilling 130 acres of corn and soybeans.

While some people go to the beach for their vacation, Kent Streiff goes to work on 130 acres of no-till ground near New Glarus, Wis.

Each spring and fall, Streiff takes time off from his full-time job as a process engineer at Kraft Foods (in nearby Madison) to plant and harvest no-till corn and soybeans.

Balancing a full-time job, complete with a fair amount of travel and company business meetings, and a farming operation is no easy feat. But Streiff believes no-till helps him achieve that balance much better than conventional tillage.

Systems Approach

True to his engineering background, Streiff views crop production as a process and has been fine-tuning a no-till system over the past 4 years. The process began with conventional tillage and contour stripping in 1997, evolving to 100 percent no-till this year.

Streiff crops 129 of the 180 acres that he, his sister and her husband own. The land neighbors the farm where Kent and his sister grew up. Streiff’s parents are deceased and the land on the family farm is cash rented to another farmer.

While Streiff’s father quit the dairy business when Kent was in junior high school, the son worked on neighboring farms in south central Wisconsin’s rolling countryside throughout his high school and college years.

“I was never much into cattle, but I did like field work,” he says. One gets the sense that he welcomed the challenge of taking on the neighboring tract of land, a large percentage of which is…

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