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Ask Ross Bishop to describe his 21-year experience with no-till and he will sum it up for you in four words:
Besides being surrounded by suburban homeowners, he has to deal with wet fields and multiple tricky soil types that include a lack of topsoil over bedrock. These bedrock soils are lithified rock that can break off and lead to stone-filled fields.
On top of that, he’s spent 4 years battling water pollution concerns from a petroleum product pipeline leak near his property that dumped 22,000 gallons of fuel into the soil. With 37 contaminated private wells ordered abandoned by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Bishop has had to truck in water for both personal use and for his beef cattle for a long time.
Bishop started farming in the area in 1982 when he managed a 300-acre conventionally-tilled operation and fed 400 steers each year for a local landowner.
“The rocks were awful with these bedrock soils,” he recalls. “I would plow a 10-acre field, work it twice with tillage and then three of us would spend a full day picking up rocks before being able to plant corn.”
In addition, tons of valuable soil was running off the farm when huge gully washes occurred. That’s when he decided…