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What I've Learned from No-Tilling: On-Farm Testing and Evaluation Lead to 100% No-Till Adoption

Crunching the numbers on no-till and other practices helps the Williams family dial in peak economic farm performance.


Pictured Above: THE LEAP. No-till corn is a rarity in the cold, dense clay soils of the area around Waldron, Mich. Nevertheless, Jay and Kelli Williams went 100% no-till in 2019 after several years of experimenting with no-till corn. So far, no-till corn yields are mostly on-par with conventionally tilled comparisons

IGNORANCE MAY BE bliss, but it’s no way to farm. Instead of blindly seeking the highest yields and following conventional management recommendations, my wife, Kelli, and I work to track, evaluate and problem solve on the farm we started together.

We both worked in ag finance while building the farm, which makes crunching numbers second nature. Our No. 1 criteria is per-acre profitability. This may work out to be getting the highest yield, but most often not. Yield is only important if it equates to the most net profit. 

Maximizing profits does not mean finding the sweet spot and idling, though. By working to improve our soils with cover crops, adding livestock, and moving toward 100% no-till and careful management we hope to constantly push the peak of our production profitability curve ever higher. 

We want our farm to not only be profitable for us but set it up to be profitable in the future. We have three boys, Sam, Seth and Silas, that may want to farm one day, and we want them to have every chance at success.

We’ve set some aggressive goals for ourselves and our farm:

  1. Bring applied nitrogen (N) per bushel down to a…
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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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