The genesis of no-till on the rolling hills of R & K Farms began during the 1970s when Jay Robert Renick drove to southern Ohio to attend a field day.
Renick observed two piles of soil from both no-till and conventionally tilled fields that had been placed on scales. The no-till soil had earthworms and was lighter because it let in more oxygen through the pores. The conventionally tilled soil had less air in it and was much heavier.
Three decades later, Renick’s son-in-law, Larry Kinney, his sons Richard and Sam Kinney, and part-timer Eric Stokes, are carrying the torch as they no-till 3,850 acres in Lewistown, Ohio.
Representing the sixth generation of family to operate R & K Farms, the Kinneys face numerous challenges no-tilling 1,850 corn acres and 2,000 soybean acres on a low-lying farm with rolling hills, a multitude of soil types and heavy springtime rains.
But they say long-term no-till is helping them reduce labor and fuel expenses, apply less nitrogen, and reduce their dependence on insecticides and fungicides.
The family is also reaping financial benefits from the 2,600 acres they enrolled in the USDA’s Conservation Security Program in 2006. Another 800 acres are pending with the NRCS for approval. “The biggest thing you hear about no-till from other growers is, ‘It doesn’t work on our soils,’” Richard says. “Believe me, we’ve got every soil type here, and it does work.”
Labor savings was a major reason the Kinneys turned to no-till in…