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What I've Learned From No-Tilling: Building Fertility Takes Long-term No-Till to the Next Level

Cover crops, the right equipment and no-till have improved the scant 6 inches of topsoil at Paul Kelly’s farms, and now he’s looking to the next boost.


Pictured Above: Paul Kelly

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Name: Paul Allen Kelly

Location: Midland, Ohio

Years No-Tilling: 34

Acres: 1,400 acres

Crops: Soybeans and corn

I started farming on the brink of the 1980s farm crisis. I graduated from high school in 1983 and was raring to continue in the farming tradition established by my father and grandfather. 

As a kid, I would skip school and put every spare hour into running our old disc and rolling basket over our fields at planting and spend my whole summer cultivating soybeans.

As I was ready to hit the fields full time, though, my Dad, Paul, reached a point where financially things weren’t working. He held an auction and got rid of all our equipment. I was heartbroken as I thought this was the end, but my heartbreak was short lived as he immediately used the proceeds to purchase a used tractor and a double frame, 6-row no-till planter.

Dad had been experimenting a bit with no-till, but this was a huge jump. All the farmers that gathered at our local greasy spoon restaurant were just sure no-till wouldn’t work. They were sure we were going to go broke. This mentality continued for several years.

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BETTER STANDS. In the past, Paul Kelly added a number of Case IH components to his Kinse planter, including reduced inner diameter gauge wheels. But he decided just to buy a Case IH 1240 Early Riser planter instead, citing the machine’s opener and firmer performance. “Frankly, switching to

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Martha Mintz

Contributing Editor

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