It was 29 years ago yesterday, on Feb. 1, 1988, that University of Illinois agronomist and no-till pioneer George McKibben passed away.

McKibben designed some of the earliest no-till plots to be found anywhere in the country at the Dixon Springs Agricultural Center in Simpson, Ill. His annual summer field days featured hundreds of tank mix concoctions for no-till weed control and his 1961 work on no-tilling corn into fescue sod led to the first field-scale introduction of no-till a year later in southern Kentucky.

McKibben used what was likely the first no-till planter ever built in the U.S., which was just a two-row unit. Former University of Illinois agronomist Mike Plumer says the planter was built in 1955 and that he even used it on plots in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

McKibben's plots also inspired Harry Young Jr. to try no-till on his farm in 1962. Young is believed to be the first grower to have the first commercial no-till field in the U.S.