Barb and Scott FD 2015

Sustaining Success Through Superior Soil

For Waco, Neb. no-tiller Scott Gonnerman, less is more when it comes to fertilizer, insecticide and residue disturbance, setting the framework for generations to come on his family-run operation.

Innovation can take many forms in agriculture. For Waco, Neb., no-tiller Scott Gonnerman, simplicity and tradition are his chosen pathways to progress on his 250-acre operation. 

The latest data-collecting gadgets or the next cutting-edge planter aren’t on his wish list. His current one, he notes, is doing the job just fine. 

“I bought my John Deere planter back in 1992 for $3,100,” he recalls. “And there’s nothing precision about it.”

Higher on the list of Gonnerman’s priorities is the sustainability of his soil, which he intends to pass on to his grandson in continuation of a family–run operation dating back to 1918 when his own great grandfather purchased the land.


Find out more about Scott Gonnerman’s soil-building and cover cropping strategies, including his roller crimper investment to terminate weeds and eliminate herbicide use:

After decades of conservation tillage on his corn and soybean operation, Gonnerman transitioned to no-till in 2008, adding cover crops in 2009. 

As a firm believer in building biodiversity for long-term soil health, Gonnerman leaves his ground completely undisturbed, including any residue from his corn-soybean-small grain and cover crop rotation.

“Soils are built from the top down, so any time we disturb the top of the soil, we’re limiting its ability to restore its natural function,” he says. 

When it comes to measuring success, Gonnerman values efficiency over volume, as reflected by his yearly statistics on corn. Average bushel per-acre yields in his region fall between 250-275, compared to Gonnerman’s 200-220. 

“There will be a time

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James DeGraff

James DeGraff is an Editorial Assistant for No-Till Farmer. A senior at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, James is pursuing a degree in Journalism as well as Strategic Communication. Contact:

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