St. Louis, Mo. — Calmer Corn Heads and No-Till Farmer recognized the 24th class of No-Till Innovator Award winners at a special ceremony held during the annual National No-Tillage Conference (NNTC) in St. Louis.

Calmer Corn Heads

Several hundred people were on hand Wednesday at the Grand Ballroom at Union Station Hotel as the 24th class was introduced with short documentary videos and welcomed on stage to receive their awards from Alpha, Ill., no-tiller Marion Calmer, owner of Calmer Corn Heads and a long-time supporter of NNTC. No-Till Farmer senior editor John Dobberstein joined them in the award presentation.

Calmer Corn Heads is very proud sponsor this year’s awards. We appreciate the opportunity to honor the important achievements of these amazing No-Till Innovator Award winners,” says Marion Calmer, a no-tiller from Alpha, Ill., and owner of Calmer Corn Heads.

“We’d like to commend each of this year’s winners for their priceless contributions in promoting the growth of no-till practices across the U.S. and globally — leading both by example and with the valuable industry knowledge and information they bring to the table,” Dobberstein says.

“We’d also like to sincerely thank Marion Calmer and Calmer Corn Heads for stepping up to support the No-Till Innovator Awards program with their sponsorship, helping to ensure worthy individuals and organizations continue to be honored into the future.” 

The 24th class of No-Till Innovators recognized for 2019 include:


  • Jim Hoorman, Research & Education: Jim Hoorman is one of the most recognized experts in the agricultural industry on cover crops and soil health principles, as he’s taken his message about their benefits to conferences, field days and other events throughout the U.S. and the world.

    For 25 years he served as an educator for Ohio State University Extension, specializing in soil health, cover crops, water quality, nutrient management, soil ecology, sustainability and economics. Hoorman recently worked 3 years with the NRCS as a regional soil health specialist for Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland.

    Hoorman retired from the NRCS in 2019 to start his own business, Hoorman Soil Health Services, where he teaches soil health principles, consults, does grant writing, conducts soil health research and sells cover crop seed and early-maturing crop varieties.

  • Ralph Upton Jr., Crop Production: Known affectionately in farmer circles as “Junior,” Ralph Upton Jr. no-tills approximately 1,800 acres of corn, soybeans and winter wheat near Springerton in southern Illinois. But it’s his work on cover crops and soil health, in cooperation with several other researchers in the area, that put him on the map.

    Upton’s early collaborations with the late conservation ag expert Mike Plumer allowed for a tremendous amount of research work to be done on his farm, some of it even being shared or referenced still today.

    Upton says his no-till system has increased soil organic matter increase from 0.81% to more than 3%. Water infiltration has improved, erosion has come to a halt, inputs have been reduced, crop roots are stretching far into the soil profile and yields have risen.

  • Ray Ward/Ward Laboratories, Business & Service: Ray is chairman and co-owner of Ward Laboratories, based in Kearney, Neb. He is a ARCPACS-certified professional agronomist and certified professional soil scientist with a PhD in soil fertility earned from South Dakota State University in 1972.

    Before founding Ward Laboratories, Ward served as lab division manager of Servi-Tech in Dodge City, Kan., and as an associate professor at both Oklahoma State and South Dakota State universities.

    Ward also owns 720 acres near Kearney, currently no-tilling all crop acres. He’s an active chair member of Ward Labs and his day-to-day duties include maintaining employee relations, answering farmer and rancher questions and being part of the overall operations of the lab.

  • South Dakota No-Till Assn., Organization: The South Dakota No-Till Assn. was established in 1985 in Edmunds County, S.D. The founders themselves were a group of producers affiliated with the local conservation district in that particular area of the state. The association had about 350 members as of 2019.

    The purpose of the organization is to, “promote, advance and improve agriculture through the utilization of no-till farming methods. To encourage, aid and conduct research of no-till farming practices and disseminate educational information to producers using or wanting to use no-till cropping systems.”


For more information on the winners, click here for an in-depth article that appeared in the February 2020 edition of No-Till Farmer’s Conservation Tillage Guide.

The 2019 winners were chosen based on their commitment to the advancement of no-till farming. The 24th class was selected by a committee of leaders who represent different aspects of the no-till industry.

The award recipients received complimentary registration and lodging from Calmer Corn Heads for the duration of the National No-Tillage Conference, as well as a special memento to commemorate the honor.

Nominate Those Worthy 

The nomination process is already under way for the 25th class of No-Till Innovators, who will be recognized at the 29th annual National No-Tillage Conference in Indianapolis, Jan. 12-15, 2021.

** The deadline for nominations for the 25th class of No-Till Innovators is Friday, June 26, 2020. There are four easy ways to submit a No-Till Innovator Award nomination:

  1. Submit your nomination form online here.
  2. Fax your completed nomination form to John Dobberstein at (262) 786-5564
  3. Email your completed nomination form to
  4. Mail your completed nomination form to: No-Till Innovator Awards, Attn: John Dobberstein, P.O. Box 624, Brookfield, WI 53008-0624.

Past Winners

Crop Production
1996 — John McLarty, London, Ontario
1997 — Ron Jaques, Hutchinson, Kan.
1998 — Steve Groff, Holtwood, Pa.
1999 — Doug Harford, Mazon, Ill.
2000 — Mike Ellis, Worth & Dee Ellis Farm, Eminence, Ky.
2001 — Russ Zenner, Genesee, Idaho
2002 — Mike, Ted, Paul, Tom and Nick Guetterman, Bucyrus, Kan.
2003 — Tom, Jeff and Doug Martin, Mt. Pulaski, Ill.
2004 — Randy Schwartz, Great Bend, Kan.
2005 — John Aeschliman, Colfax, Wash.
2006 — Joe Breker, Havana, N.D.
2007 — Bill Richards, Circleville, Ohio
2008 — Allen Berry, Nauvoo, Ill.
2009 — Rulon Enterprises (Rodney, Ken and Roy Rulon), Arcadia, Ind.
2010 — Ray McCormick, Vincennes, Ind. 
2011 — Terry Taylor, Geff, Ill.
2012 — Dan DeSutter, Attica, Ind.
2013 — Jack Maloney, Brownsburg, Ind.
2014 — Mike Beer, Keldron, S.D.
2015 — David Brandt, Carroll, Ohio
2016 — Steve Berger, Wellman, Iowa
2017 — Annie Dee, Aliceville, Ala.
2018 — Jim Hershey, Elizabethtown, Pa.
2019 — Ralph Upton Jr., Springerton, Ill., no-tiller, Crop Production

Research & Education
1996 — John Bradley, University of Tennessee, Milan, Tenn. 
1997 — George Kapusta*, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, Ill.
1998 — Paul Jasa, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, Neb.
1999 — Dwayne Beck, Dakota Lakes Research Farm, Pierre, S.D.
2000 — John Walker, Ricks College, Rexburg, Idaho
2001 — Wayne Reeves, National Soils Lab, Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Auburn, Ala.
2002 — Glover Triplett, Mississippi State University, Starkville, Miss.
2003 — Norman Widman, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Columbus, Ohio
2004 — Dan Towery, Conservation Technology Information Center, West Lafayette, Ind.
2005 — Jim Cook, Washington State University, Pullman, Wash.
2006 — Jim Leverich, University of Wisconsin Cooperative Extension Service, Sparta, Wis.
2007 — Bud Davis, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Salina, Kan.
2008 — Randy Raper, National Soil Dynamics Lab, Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Auburn, Ala.
2009 — Barry Fisher, Indiana NRCS state agronomist, Indianapolis, Ind.
2010 — Harold Reetz, Reetz Agronomic Services, Monticello, Ill. 
2011 — Randall Reeder, Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio.
2012 — Randy Pryor, University of Nebraska Extension
2013 — Jill Clapperton, Rhizoterra, Inc., Florence, Mont.
2014 — Joel Gruver, Western Illinois University, Macomb, Ill.
2015 — Dr. Lloyd Murdock, University of Kentucky, Princeton, Ky.
2016 — Dave Franzen, North Dakota State University, Fargo, N.D.
2017 — Hans Kok, ag conservation consultant, Indianapolis, Ind.
2018 — Eileen Kladivko, Purdue University
2019 — Jim Hoorman, retired NRCS, Ohio State Extension educator, Research & Education

Business and Service
1996 — David Swaim, Crawfordsville, Ind.
1997 — Philip Anderson, Southern States Cooperative, Owensboro, Ky.
1998 — Joe Nester, Nester Ag Management, Antwerp, Ohio
1999 — Ed Winkle*, Hymark Consulting, Blanchester, Ohio
2000 — David Savage, Farley, Iowa
2001 — Kevin Morrow, Smiths Grove, Ky.
2002 — Brad Mathson, Whitehall Agricultural Services, Whitehall, Wis.
2003 — Dave Moeller, Moeller Ag Service, Keokuk, Iowa
2004 — Guy Swanson, Exactrix Inc., Spokane, Wash.
2005 — Paul Schaffert, Indianola, Neb.
2006 — Karl Kroeck, Knoxville, Pa.
2007 — Don Hoover, Binkley & Hurst, Lititz, Pa.
2008 — Rich Follmer, Progressive Farm Products, Hudson, Ill.
2009 — Dave Nelson, Brokaw Supply Co., Fort Dodge, Iowa
2010 — Roy Applequist, Great Plains Mfg., Salina, Kan.
2011 — Jamie Scott, J.A. Scott Farms Inc., Pierceton, Ind.
2012 — Daryl Starr, Advanced Ag Solutions
2013 — Bill Lehmkuhl, Precision Agri Services, Inc., Minster, Ohio
2014 — Terry Metzger, Ag Spectrum, DeWitt, Iowa
2015 — Phil Needham, Needham Ag Technologies, Calhoun, Ky.
2016 — Betsy Bower, Ceres Solutions, Lafayette, Ind.
2017 — Gavin Porter, Cross Slot USA, Missoula, Mont.
2018 — Phil Reed, Vertical Till Injector
2019 — Ray Ward, Ward Laboratories, Business & Service

No-Till Organizations
1997 — Manitoba-North Dakota Zero Tillage Farmer’s Association, Brandon, Manitoba
1998 — Clark County Farm Bureau, Clark County, Ind.
1999 — Conservation Action Project, Defiance, Ohio
2000 — Ohio No-Till Council, Columbus, Ohio
2001 — Coffee County Conservation Tillage Alliance, Coffee County, Ga.
2002 — West Tennessee No-Till Farmers Association, Milan, Tenn.
2003 — Pacific Northwest Direct Seed Association, Pullman, Wash.
2004 — Lower Elkhorn Natural Resource District, Norfolk, Neb.
2005 — Innovative Farmers Association of Port Stanley, Ontario
2006 — Innovative Cropping Systems Team, Quinton, Va.
2007 — Clearwater Direct Seeders, Idaho
2008 — Embarras River Management Association, Toledo, Ill.
2009 — No-Till on the Plains, Salina, Kan.
2010 — Delta Conservation Demonstration Center, Metcalfe, Miss.
2011 — Pennsylvania No-Till Alliance
2012 — Midwest Cover Crops Council
2013  — Virginia No-Till Alliance
2014 — Randall Reeder, Conservation Tillage Conference
2015 — Conservation Cropping Systems Initiative
2016 — Champlain Valley Farmer Coalition, Middlesbury, Vt.
2017 — Conservation Agriculture Systems Innovation Center, Parlier Calif.
2018 — Colorado Conservation Tillage Association, Burlington, Colo.
2019 — South Dakota No-Till Association, Edmunds County, S.D.

Equipment Design
1996 — Howard Martin, Elkton, Ky.
1997 — Ray Rawson, Farwell, Mich.
1998 — Eugene Keeton*, Clarksville, Tenn.
1999 — Jon Kinzenbaw, Kinze Manufacturing Co., Williamsburg, Iowa
2000 — Terry Schneider, Shirley, Ill.
2001 — The Reed Family (Paul Reed), Washington, Iowa
2002 — Herb Stam*, Hi-Pro Manufacturing Co., Watseka, Ill.

Ag Supplier
1997 — Jim and Tom Boyd, B & B Farm Service, Fredericktown, Ohio
1998 — Eric Laux, Laux Farm Service, New Madison, Ohio
1999 — Crop Production Services, Morganfield, Ky.
2000 — Miles Farm Supply and Opti-Crop, Owensboro, Ky.
2001 — Roger Strand, Strand of Milan, Inc., Milan, Minn.
2002 — Loudonville Farmers Equity, Loudonville, Ohio

Environmental Stewardship
1996 — Jim LeCureux, Bad Axe, Mich.

Public Image of Agriculture
1996 — Marion Calmer, Alpha, Ill.

1996 — Mike Plumer, Marion, Ill.