No-Till Switch Brings New Opportunities for Rancher

Quitting tillage and seeding cover crops in multiple seasons is helping Andy Popp improve the health of cows and calves and ramp up soil health without missing family time.


Andy Popp says switching to no-till has improved soil tilth on his Gainesville, Texas, farm, and adding cover crops to the system is providing additional forage options and economical gains for cows and calves. “It took me a while to get over the hump and learn that I don’t have kill everything to grow something,” he says.

Straight out of high school, Andy Popp worked long hours at local factories. When he later worked on his family’s farm he would coach his children’s softball and baseball games and then go home to plow the fields late into the night.

But after converting the family’s 1,200-acre cattle farm to no-till practices, Popp can enjoy his children’s ball games and not be a slave to tillage. He’s branched away from the conventional mindset that no-till doesn’t work, and that seeding cover crops would just spread weeds.

So far, the transition to no-till has allowed the family to improve soil tilth, cut fertilizer applications by one third and make some money on livestock by pulling inferior cows and calves off the market, grazing them on covers and cashing them back out much healthier.

“Farmers are the least likely to change, but when someone does try something and it does work, they are the first to jump on it,” Popp says, noting his livestock focus is a little different than grain farms. “Now I drive by guys that I know are good conventional farmers, but see how much they battle fixing terraces and all…

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John-dobberstein2

John Dobberstein

John Dobberstein is senior editor of No-Till Farmer magazine and the e-newsletter Dryland No-TillerHe previously covered agriculture for the Tulsa World and worked for daily newspapers in Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Joseph, Mich. He graduated with a B.A. in journalism and political science from Central Michigan University.

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