NAME: Mike Starkey
FARM: Starkey Farms
LOCATION: Brownsburg, Ind.
YEARS NO-TILLING: 28
CROPS: Corn, soybeans and winter wheat
No-till may allow other farmers to cover a lot more acres, but on our farm we operate with fewer acres and focus intensively on managing the land we do crop.
Ours is a six-generation family farm. I am in partnership with my nephew, Jeff; his son, Zach; and my son, Nick. Over the last 15 years we’ve pared our operation down from 3,400 acres to about 2,600 acres. We raise corn, soybeans and wheat and run about 25 head of beef cattle we sell for freezer beef.
“Our corn roots do not have the pancake effect like they did when I conventionally tilled. Now the roots go down below the plant…”
Since we converted to 100% no-till in the late 1990s, we realized we wanted to dedicate our time to more intensively managing our best land.
We had some landlords that didn’t like the idea of no-tilling their farms and I didn’t like to run around and do a bunch of patches for nothing if those acres weren’t going to be continuously no-tilled. I don’t farm as a hobby, so we cut back the acres we planted to just those we could manage in a fashion we feel is the most productive and responsible use of the soil.
Getting our farm to 100% no-till wasn’t an…