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What I've Learned From No-Tilling: Once a Naysayer, Agronomist is Now a No-Till Champion

Years of no-till experience enables Bud Smith to help no-tillers find the weakest link in their field, such as seed placement and nitrogen timing.


Pictured Above: CHECKING UP. A soil penetrometer shows compaction in a field. To correct the issue, Bud Smith is planting a cereal rye cover crop and no-tilling. He’s used the penetrometer to not only show farmers compaction in their fields, but how mellow soil can be, too, such as in acres coming out of CRP

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NAME: Gary “Bud” Smith

POSITION: Agronomist (retired)

LOCATION: Caledonia, Mich.

YEARS PROMOTING NO-TILLING: 20

I’M NOT SURE anyone has changed their stance on no-till more than me. As the agronomy manager of Caledonia Farmers Elevator in Michigan, the farmers I advised always looked to me for the solutions to their problems. When the early innovator farmers I worked with started attempting no-till, I watched a lot of failures and I didn’t have any good answers at the time.

I like solving problems. I grew up on a small farm. My father was a truck driver who farmed about 150 acres when he wasn’t working his other job. I helped. After high school, I was drafted and did a tour of duty in Vietnam. I was a bit disoriented when I returned home a year later, unsure of my direction in life. College was free to veterans, so I enrolled at Michigan State University where I ended up staying and earning a degree in crops and soils.

After graduation, I spent some time working at a fertilizer company before landing at the Caledonia Farmers Elevator. I spent the next 37 years developing the…

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Martha Mintz

Contributing Editor

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