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Treading Lightly, Succeeding Big with No-Till

Australian no-tiller Allen Postlethwaite and family rely on controlled traffic and precision-guided seeding to give their crops every chance to thrive.


Above photo: Allen and Yvonne Postlethwaite


By Allen Postlethwaite
As interviewed by Martha Mintz

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NAME: Allen Postlethwaite

LOCATION: St. Arnaud, Victoria, Australia

YEARS NO-TILLING: 32

ACRES: 6,000

CROPS: Wheat, barley, faba beans, chickpeas, lentils, canola, linseed (flax)

Our sons were the primary driver for why we made the leap and went 100% no-till back in 1983 — though drought certainly was a factor.

Prior to that date, my wife and I ran a fairly traditional operation for the area. Our land was dedicated 50% to growing crops and 50% to sheep production. Our rotation was wheat, a year of pasture medic and then 10 months of fallow.

We had been experimenting with no-till, but didn’t have any pressing need to make the leap. That changed when our sons, Neale and Trevor, were due to come home to the farm.

We had to generate more income to support everyone, so we took a hard look at our numbers. My wife, Yvonne, who is trained in business management, realized that while the land resource was divided 50-50 between crops and sheep, the crops made up 90% of our income. We decided the best way to fund the boys coming home was to increase the cropping area and sell the sheep.

At this time we were also dealing with one of the three worst years I’ve seen in farming (the other two are 2014 and 2015). In 1982 we had a severe drought. We had sold all the livestock while…

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