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What I've Learned from No-Tilling: Sidestepping Disaster Pushes No-Till Farm Down Bold New Path

Once a mere day from filing bankruptcy, these young farmers got a second chance and are bravely, and boldly pressing on.

In 2017 the wheels came off, both literally and figuratively. First, and worst, our bank suddenly decided to not renew our operating loan.

My wife, Beth, and I were sitting on 180 Holstein steers on feed. It’s a 16-month journey to take bottle calves to finished steers and we were right in the middle of the process. We owed $450,000 in operating costs and it would be months before we could pay what we owed.

This timeline had always been part of the plan we worked out with our loan officer, which was — and still is — very confusing for us. Without operating funds, we were suddenly thrust into a truly awful place. It was difficult to see a path that led anywhere good for us or for the farm Beth and I had worked so hard to scratch together since we started this journey together as teenagers.

We both come from generations of farming, but our farm is of our own making. We farmed our first 100 acres in 2001. We worked off-farm jobs, building leased acres until 2011 when we had enough that farming could be my full-time vocation.

 

CHECK THE SPECS…

NAME: Doug and Beth McConnell

FARM: McConnell Family Farms, LLC.

LOCATION: Zanesville, Ohio

YEARS NO-TILLING: 6

ACRES: 380

CROPS: Corn, soybeans, wheat, triticale, forage mixes

 

NO-TILL TAKEAWAYS

  • Judging the quality of our corn crop strictly by sight doesn’t work. Dark green, healthy-looking corn doesn’t necessarily produce more economical yield.
  • Interseeding cover crops worked better on…
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Martha-mintz-new

Martha Mintz

Since 2011, Martha has authored the highly popular “What I’ve Learned About No-Till” series that has appeared in every issue of No-Till Farmer since August of 2002.


Growing up on a cattle ranch in southeastern Montana, Martha is a talented ag writer and photographer who lives with her family in Billings, Montana.

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