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No-Till Creates Path to Success for Young Wisconsin Brothers

Tough lessons about farm management lead brothers Andy and Anthony Beck to no-till. Improved profits and healthier soils turned them into dedicated practitioners.

For many farmers, it can take years to make the transition from traditional tillage to no-till practices, often starting with a small field and adding acres each year.

But brothers Andy and Anthony Beck of Waterford, Wis., couldn’t wait that long. They began farming in 2001 after their grandfather died and they purchased his machinery. To get started they used the same tillage techniques they were taught as youngsters, but soon realized they would need to make some changes.

“That first year we lost money. That was really the driving factor. We knew if we were going to farm we needed to find a way to be profitable,” says Andy.

The young farmers — Andy was only 21 at the time and Anthony still in high school — turned to neighbors for advice and learned about no-till from more experienced farmers like Brian Gunderson, who also no-tills corn and soybeans in Waterford, Wis.

 

No-Till Takeaways

  • Experiment and learn no-till techniques for yourself — you have to figure out what works on your ground.
  • Avoid planting in muddy conditions, get good seed-to-soil contact and make sure your seed trenches are properly closed. 
  • Older technology can perform just as well as the newer gadgets. Compatibility is key. 

“We were friends with Brian and he did help us out. He made us learn it, though. He didn’t just tell us,” says Andy.

The following year, they started by no-tilling a few fields, about 30 or 40 acres. The next year they expanded it…

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Julia Gerlach

Julia Gerlach is managing editor of No-Till Farmer. She has a lengthy background in publishing and a longtime interest in gardening and mycology. She graduated with a B.A. in music and philosophy from Alverno College in Milwaukee, Wis.

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