Two Legends Who Gave No-Till A Lift

A savvy for problem solving helped two rural Kentucky farmers invent planter attachments and technologies that changed the game for no-tillers.

While many innovative farmers and manufacturers have played important roles in the growth of no-till, two men perhaps loom the largest — no-tiller Eugene Keeton and Howard Martin, the founder of Martin Industries.

Keeton invented the Keeton seed firmer that’s now manufactured and marketed by Tremont, Ill.-based Precision Planting.


Meanwhile, Martin went from farming to founding Martin Industries, which makes row cleaners, fertilizer openers, closing wheels, gauge wheels and other no-till row-unit tools at its manufacturing plant in Elkton, Ky.

On the eve of the 50th anniversary of no-till’s start in the U.S., No-Till Farmer editors recently traveled to southern Kentucky where no-till got its start, to catch up with Martin and Keeton. They talked about the development of their products, and how they helped no-tillers succeed.

Howard Martin: Determination Breeds Success

Martin Industries cemented its place in no-till history during the 1980s as Howard Martin spent countless hours in his farm shop designing row cleaners, closing wheels and other attachments for planters and drills.

The row cleaners he invented moved residue away from the planting area, while the closing wheels closed the seed trench in tough soil conditions — both tools no-tillers needed for better emergence and yields.

Martin Industry’s planter attachments, and those of other manufacturers, are standard additions for many no-till planters and drills throughout the U.S.

Martin’s company currently supplies equipment to more than 1,500 dealers in 38 states and four countries.

Martin recently left retirement to take the reins of his company again. He finds…

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John dobberstein2

John Dobberstein

John Dobberstein was senior editor of No-Till Farmer magazine and the e-newsletter Dryland No-TillerHe previously covered agriculture for the Tulsa World and worked for daily newspapers in Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Joseph, Mich. He graduated with a B.A. in journalism and political science from Central Michigan University.

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