What I've Learned From No-Tilling: Continuing a Nearly 50-Year No-Till Tradition

Kentucky no-tiller Don Halcomb is upping his management game to take his six-generation farming operation to the next level.

By Don Halcomb As interviewed by Martha Mintz

Check The Specs...

NAME: Don Halcomb

FARM: Walnut Grove Farms

LOCATION: Logan County, Ky.

YEARS NO-TILLING: 47

ACRES: 6,000

CROPS: Corn, soybeans, wheat and barley

When your family has been farming the same land for six generations like ours, there’s bound to be a few differences made in how things are done along the way.

My grandfather’s life on the farm has spanned an incredible amount of change; from planting the fields with teams of mules to driving auto-steer tractors.

My grandfather also enacted a lot of change during his time. He tackled the task of switching our farm over to no-till in 1968, allowing for three, going on four, generations of no-till experience and benefits.

His first adventures in no-till were no-tilling soybeans into wheat stubble. Before no-till, he would harvest wheat, moldboard plow the stubble, disc and then plant. By the time he got done with all those trips through the field in June or July, there wasn’t really any moisture. The germination on those crops was pretty pitiful as a result.

No-till seemed to be the logical solution. My grandfather bought a toolbar set up for four 40-inch corn rows. He installed seven Allis Chalmers no-till row units, splitting the middles of the 40-inch corn rows to make 20-inch soybean rows. The soybeans germinated a lot better when the planter and the combine were in the wheat fields at the same time. Plus, we didn’t lose any additional moisture…

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