NAME: Patrick Petersen
FARM: Plum Thicket Farms
LOCATION: Gordon, Neb.
YEARS NO-TILLING: 14 years
CROPS: Wheat, soybeans, corn, sunflowers, barley, spring wheat, oat and pea hay, milo and forage cover crops
We weren’t farmers when my family moved to northwest Nebraska in 1995. I grew up in the mountains of Colorado with my mom, Nancy, who was working as a veterinarian and my dad, Rex, an architect.
Mom grew up on a ranch and always dreamed of having her own. When the opportunity came along for us to move to Nebraska and for her to practice as a large animal vet, we made the move.
In 1998 they purchased our ranch near Gordon, Neb. It was enough to run 250 cows. We had 540 acres of dryland farm ground and 160 acres of alfalfa irrigated with a side roll system.
The dryland acres had been farmed traditionally in a summer fallow wheat rotation. We didn’t know what we were doing, so we took on the same hired hand that had been with the ranch and asked him to help us continue managing the place. It didn’t take long before we figured that some changes were in order.
Our location is right in the transition zone between the Nebraska Sandhills and a pocket of heavier ground. Soils are typically a very sandy loam with very low…