Ross Bishop is a respectable no-tiller. He pays his bills on time. He communicates with local no-tillers to get new ideas and information. Never has the Jackson, Wis., farmer given the neighbors cause to question his competence.
And then it happened. On Feb., 26, 1998, Bishop marched to the machinery shed to do something they thought was down-right kooky.
Out came the no-till drill and up went their eyebrows.
“I must have seen every neighbor drive slowly by that field, shaking their heads,” laughs Bishop. “I suppose when you think about it, it is a bit strange.”
While he may seem reserved, Bishop had an agenda that February day. He wanted to prove that if early oats could ever be planted successfully—it would be with no-till.
“We were sitting at a dairy banquet in West Bend, Wis.,” he explains. “I couldn’t help overhearing the older guys bragging about how one of their dads planted oats on the tenth of March. So I decided to beat them.”
Of course, Bishop looked at his surrounding situation. The ground wasn’t frozen. The fields had received the right amount of rain during the winter and the weather reports weren’t predicting any more snow.
Even though the situation looked good, he wasn’t about to put all his eggs in one basket. “I chose a small test field,” he says. “If it turned out all right, I could always go back and plant the rest of the field.”
Bishop seeded oats…