No-Tiller Protects Soil, Profits With New Technology

Modern planters and advanced fertilizer-application tools are helping Rod Nelson advance his decades-old no-till operation in Minnesota.

In 1977, Rod Nelson had accumulated enough savings to pay down 348 acres of farmland near Chatfield in the rolling hill country of southeastern Minnesota.

But with no outside help or inheritance, it left him cash-strapped for any new tractors or equipment. He was farming with a Case 800 tractor he bought for $700. He was in need of an idea.

“No-till innovators were getting attention at the time, and the things I read and heard about this new way of farming seemed to be a natural for someone in my situation, with highly erodible land and a shortage of big equipment,” Nelson recalls.

A Modest Beginning

Nelson’s commitment to no-till started with the purchase of an Allis-Chalmers four-row no-till planter in 1982, a machine he describes as a forerunner of today’s much improved no-till machines.

It was a heavy rig, with a big disc for dry fertilizer out front and a packer wheel located in the back of the row unit.

“With its bulky weight, it had enough down pressure to cut through residue, but the depth control left something to be desired,” he says. “And plant uniformity suffered.”

At that time, his conservation efforts included farming contoured strips around the hillsides, and he saw no-till as another means of saving the soil.

“In time, no-till allowed us to move away from strip farming, but we still use contours on our steepest fields,” he explains.

Feeding a beef-cattle herd called for substantial hay acreage, and Nelson learned that land…

To view the content, please subscribe or login.
 Premium content is for our Digital-only and Premium subscribers. A Print-only subscription doesn't qualify. Please purchase/upgrade a subscription with the Digital product to get access to all No-Till Farmer content and archives online. Learn more about the different versions and what is included.

Ross ron

Ron Ross

Ron Ross pioneered the “What I’ve Learned from No-Tilling” series that has appeared in every issue of No-Till Farmer since August of 2002. He authored more than 100 of these articles.

A graduate of South Dakota State University’s agricultural journalism program, Ross spent most of his career as a writer and editor.

Top Articles

Current Issue


No-Till Farmer

Get full access NOW to the most comprehensive, powerful and easy-to-use online resource for no-tillage practices. Just one good idea will pay for your subscription hundreds of times over.

Subscribe Now

View More

Must Read Free Eguides

Download these helpful knowledge building tools

View More
Top Directory Listings