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What I've Learned from No-Tilling: No-Till and Cover Crops Give Tired Soils New Life

It was an uphill battle, but these Missouri no-tillers returned productivity to a heavily depleted farm.


Pictured Above: Brothers Travis (left) and Cody (right) with dad, Kenny Brinker (center)

A cross-state move and knowing the potential of no-till bought our family and the land we purchased a fresh start. A commitment to cover crops gave us a mid-race boost we’re still riding.

Kenny: The original family farm was in Washington, Mo., on the outskirts of St. Louis. There our fields lay on steep bluffs consisting of deep, but highly erodible windblown soil. When I was just out of high school in 1970 we tried no-tilling 20 acres of corn into a field where we had harvested hay. It worked and within 6-8 years, our entire farm was no-till.

No-till helped significantly with erosion and our soil health improved, but it couldn’t resolve our main problem — urban encroachment. By the late 1980s our farm was surrounded by suburbs. We started shopping for less crowded property. The hunt took us to central Missouri. We bought our current farm in 1993 and moved the family in 1998 upon completion of constructing a hog unit. We now have capacity to raise 80,000 hogs per year.

Check The Specs...

NAME: Kenny, Cody and Travis Brinker

FARM: Brinker Farms

LOCATION: Columbia, Mo.

YEARS NO-TILLING: 40

ACRES: 4,200

CROPS: Corn, soybeans, cereal rye

The property had been on the market for several years and we got it for a decent price. When we asked the neighbors why they hadn’t snatched it up, they said they thought the land was used up and…

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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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