What I've Learned From No-Tilling: 7 Steps To Making Precision Technology Work

Clay and Wade Mitchell took seven crucial steps to convert their Iowa farm into the world’s “highest tech” ag production system.

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NAME: Clay T. Mitchell

LOCATION: Buckingham, Iowa (Manages The Mitchell Farm with his father, Wade)


YEARS NO-TILLING: 20 (strip-tilling 16 years)

CROPS NO-TILLED: Corn, soybeans

In a recent entry on The Mitchell Farm Web site (www.mitchellfarm.com), I wrote that “effectiveness comes from getting the one piece of information necessary to make a decision and leaving the rest unseen.” I was referring to how easy it is to get smothered in GPS field-generated data, but often not knowing how to put it to work.

It’s a lesson we’ve learned at The Mitchell Farm during the past decade as we adopted and adapted a whole sequence of precision ag technologies, many for the first time anywhere.

While I could spend pages (and have) describing each of those incremental steps to achieving farmwide automation, perhaps a review of how each influenced higher production levels will be most helpful to other no-tillers — for the simple fact that if a given technology doesn’t make you more money, it’s not worth pursuing.

We measure success in terms of total farm efficiency. As The Mitchell Farm has grown to 2,400 acres, Dad and I have been able to handle management and most of the fieldwork. Meanwhile, Dad continues to work full time as a John Deere industrial engineer and I fly back and forth to Cornell University in New York, working toward earning a Ph.D. in agronomy.

Each year, we host two graduate student interns to give them a chance…

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Clay T. Mitchell

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