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What I've Learned From No-Tilling: No-Till, Along with Longer Rotations, Makes for Great Grazing and Improving Soils

A balance of cash crops and forage mixes used for intensive grazing helps keep Plum Thicket Farms moving in the right direction.


Pictured Above: Plum Thicket Farms includes (l-r) Patrick Petersen, (hired hand) Jess Rodman and Rex and Nancy Petersen

Check The Specs...

NAME: Patrick Petersen

FARM: Plum Thicket Farms

LOCATION: Gordon, Neb.

YEARS NO-TILLING: 14 years

ACRES: 2,300

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.

Blown Away

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…

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Martha Mintz

Contributing Editor

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