BROOKFIELD, Wis. (Oct. 11, 2016)Behind the theme “Quarter Century of No-Till Learning,” the 2017 National No-Tillage Conference (NNTC) returns in January to the “Gateway to the West” in St. Louis for the seventh time in the conference’s 25-year history.

25th annual National No-Tillage ConferenceThe just-completed conference program, now available at, provides a glimpse into the 40-plus presentations offering the most innovative, leading-edge information farmers will absorb over the conference’s four days, Jan. 10-13, 2017.

Sharing the best no-till management practices and ideas to improve every no-tillers’ bottom line, speakers include seasoned no-tillers, agronomists, soil scientists, no-till consultants and precision farming experts from the U.S., Canada and as far as South Africa, covering everything from soil health to planter setups to cover cropping to fertility strategies — and much more.

The 25th annual event includes 13 general session presentations, 24 classrooms and 70 roundtables. Following is a sample of speakers lined up to present nearly 100 hours of in-depth no-till learning at the Hilton St. Louis at the Ballpark hotel in downtown St. Louis.

  • The conference opens on Tuesday afternoon with two big events: an in-depth private workshop with soil microbiologist Wendy Taheri of TerraNimbus covering arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi, and a special seminar for both farm equipment dealers and farmers with Greg Peterson, a.k.a. “Machinery Pete,” as he provides his expert analysis and perspectives on the value and market for used no-till planters and other equipment. All this will be followed by a special welcome reception for conference attendees sponsored by Farmers Edge, Harvest International, Midwest Bio-Tech and Montag Mfg.
  • Officially kicking off the conference Wednesday morning, Herndon, Ky., no-tiller John Young — whose father started the no-till revolution in 1962 with the first commercial no-tilled plot — and John’s son Alexander, will share the newly recognized advantages of no-till, some observations about what has changed in no-tilling the last 55 years, and explain why the “Four Ps — Profit, Production, Progeny and Posterity” — are so important. And in “Successful Past, Bright Future with No-Till and Cover Crops,” Vincennes, Ind., no-tiller Ray McCormick — who spoke at the very first NNTC in 1993 — will discuss how his operation progressed to continuous no-tilling of 2,400 acres of corn and soybeans and management of 2,000 acres of woodlands and wetlands on his farm. McCormick will also reflect on what’s changed on his no-till operation in the last quarter century.
  • NNTC keynote speaker J.C. Cahill, an experimental plant ecologist at the University of Alberta — most well-known for being the lead scientist and public face of the documentary, “What Plants Talk About,” on the PBS series Nature — will highlight leading-edge research in no-till plant behavior in his presentation “Deciphering the Chatter: Uncovering How Plants Communicate.”
  • Wednesday night’s general sessions will continue an intense focus on soil health. Renowned University of Maryland soil scientist Ray Weil will provide tips on what growers can do to optimize soil functions with his presentation, “Making Physics, Chemistry and Biology Work Together in Your No-Tilled Soils.” Then retired University of Illinois agronomist Mike Plumer will outline what no-tillers can accomplish with so-called cover-crop cocktails, without breaking the bank, in “Making Sense of Cover Crop Mixes.”
  • Thursday’s general sessions will offer plenty of practical information about soil fertility management and building efficient fertilizer programs, along with a taste of no-till history. In “Finding and Fixing Nutrient Imbalances in No-Tilled Crops,” Charleston, Mo., soil fertility expert Neal Kinsey will use real-world examples of soil reports from his lab to discuss nutrient imbalances that were found and discuss what steps should be taken to resolve these excesses or deficiencies. Havana, N.D., grower Joe Breker — who also spoke at the inaugural NNTC in 1993 — will share how he’s slashed input costs by improving organic matter, banding fertilizer and seeding cover crops in his bio strip-till system in “Reaping Long-Term Success with Cover Crops and Precision Fertility.” He’ll also reflect on what’s changed for the better on his farm in the last 25 years.
  • Additionally on Thursday, Essex, Mo., no-tiller Johnny Hunter will share his challenging transition from a conventionally tilled, furrow-irrigated operation to 100% no-till in “Seeing ‘Green’ Brings Bright, More Profitable No-Till Future.” And ahead of the annual NNTC Gala, No-Till Farmer editor Frank Lessiter will lead a panel discussion with five no-tillers and an ag engineer who’ve attended all 25 NNTC events to talk about how they’ve succeeded with no-till.
  • Friday’s general sessions will offer more in-depth information about improving the health of no-tilled soils. Taheri will explore the role arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi play in robust no-tilled soils in “Putting Soil Microbes to Work in Your No-Till System.” And in “Tracking Glyphosate’s Effects on Microbial Communities in No-Tilled Soils,” Robert Kremer, a retired research microbiologist with the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service, will discuss the complex of many soil, biological, environmental and management factors necessary for the microbial degradation and dissipation of glyphosate, and the importance of that to succeeding with sustainable cropping systems like no-till.
  • In classroom sessions, a large contingent of no-tillers from various regions will share decades of field-proven best practice and ideas, including: Jeremy Wilson, Olney, Ill; Jim Leverich, Sparta, Wis.; Alan Mindemann, Apache, Okla.; Seth Watkins, Clarinda, Iowa; Marion Calmer, Alpha, Ill.; Dwight Clary, Fostoria, Ohio; and Egon Zunckel, South Africa. Industry experts to present at this prestigious conference include no-till consultants Dan Towery and Hans Kok; Solvita soil test developer Will Brinton; no-till planter specialist Rich Schlipf; and soils and crops consultant Jim Johnson from The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation.

John Dobberstein, senior editor at No-Till Farmer and the organizer of the National No-Tillage Conference, says both experienced no-tillers and farmers considering adopting no-tillage practices will get dozens of practical tips to use in their operations and be challenged to improve their farming system.

“With the 100-plus educational sessions we’re offering between general sessions, classrooms and roundtables, we’re continuing to focus on providing no-tillers the most in-depth, well-rounded educational experience we can,” Dobberstein says. “And in recognizing this event’s 25th anniversary in 2017, we’ll have a number of special events, gifts and other offerings as we celebrate this milestone for our company, and for the growth of no-till.”

The final 12-page program can be viewed and downloaded at Registration is just $319 per person, with a special $292 rate for additional farm or family members. 

The event is co-sponsored by No-Till Farmer and 14 industry-leading companies, including Agrotain, Ag Leader Technology, Case IH, DawnBiologic, Equipment Technologies (Apache sprayers), Exapta Solutions, KB Seed Solutions, Needham Ag Technologies, Nufarm, Pure Grade Liquid Fertilizer (The Andersons), Syngenta, Titan International (Goodyear), Verdesian Life Sciences and Yetter Farm Equipment.