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“They said, ‘I’ve been here for 35 years; I know everything there is to know and it’s not going to work.’ I said, ‘Yeah, with that attitude, you’re exactly right.’” — Marion Calmer, CEO, Calmer Corn Heads, on the road blocks he ran into with the major-line engineers who we were supposed to mass-produce his corn harvesting inventions.

When Marion Calmer, a no-tiller at heart from Alpha, Ill., says that he does on-farm research, he really means it. Calmer began conducting research in 1985, working with an average of 380 no-till corn and soybean plots each year.

So, when it comes to understanding what does and doesn’t provide a good return on investment on the farm — and from the assembly line — the ag innovator has a pretty good clue. What’s more, he’s always more than willing to candidly share his experience, depth of no-till knowledge and industry outlook.

Marion learned that having a major behind your invention wasn’t all that it was cracked up to be. Tired of the roller coaster of emotions, empty promises and frustrations from those who didn’t want their conventional wisdom challenged, Marion became a reluctant shortline manufacturer in 2002, who almost didn’t survive the early years.

In 2005, he left is farm shed and moved into an empty Ford New Holland dealership in Alpha, Illinois, and there was no turning back ...

In today’s podcast, Marion Calmer and I sat down at the National No-Tillage Conference, where he (one of the early No-Till Innovators of the Year) had just presented new research on ultra-narrow row corn. In this bull-session like podcast, you’ll hear his struggles trying to get his own start as a farmer in the 1980s and how that required his own on-farm research, which led to an independent ag research operation. He also shares how he reluctantly arrived at the decision that he’d need to “go it alone” as a specialty equipment manufacturer to see his vision come to life.







No-Till Farmer's podcast series is brought to you by Calmer Corn Heads.

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Calmer Corn Heads is home of the world’s first 12-and 15-inch corn heads and residue management upgrade kits. Their patented BT Chopper Stalk Rolls cut, chop and shear cornstalks into confetti-like residue for accelerated decomposition, and have been voted to the No-Till Product of the Year list 5 times by farmers across America. Visit them at


Music: Josh Woodward - Golden Sunrise (Instrumental Version)