NAME: Jim and Charles Pilling
LOCATION: Mediapolis, Iowa
FARM: Pilling, Inc.
YEARS NO-TILLING: 25
CROPS: Corn and soybeans
WHEN WE STEP into our office, soil conservation posters serve to remind us why we do the things we do on our farm. Our soils need to be protected and nourished to keep waterways healthy and the nation’s food supply sustainable.
Our grandfather and father were big into soil conservation. They instilled upon us that soil is one of our biggest resources and we need to do the right thing to protect it. That may mean avoiding choices, such as tillage, that give a short-term benefit but, in the long run, hurt our soils and our farm. We’ve taken the foundation they laid for us and continued to build on their soil conservation legacy.
Our farm is in the rolling ground connecting the flat Iowa prairies to the mighty Mississippi river. A fair portion of our acres are classified as highly erodible land (HEL). The region used to be dominated by livestock production due to its hilly nature, but access to more markets via the river drew many to increase their farming. Without the protection of prairie grasses, the exposed land became far more susceptible to erosion.
Our father worked to counter this problem. He was among the first to install parallel drop inlet terraces to manage runoff and reduce soil erosion. Then, in 1989, he rented a no-till drill from…