No-till has resulted in our area having what I would venture to say are some of the strongest capitalized farms in the country. In fact, no-till is one of the only reasons we have farming in the area at all.
I was born into no-till, you could say. It’s really all I’ve ever known. My grandfather was a big proponent for the environment and was an advocate when my Dad pushed for reducing tillage on our farm in the early 1990s.
In the last 10 years I’ve seen no-till declining in my area. I simply don’t understand it, maybe it’s the draw of recreational tillage as we like to call it, but to me it’s just not sustainable in the long run.
While I only truly count myself as being a no-tiller for the past 8 years since I started farming on my own, I’m no stranger to the practice. Of the 210 acres I farm, all but 38 acres are considered Highly Erodible Lands (HEL). The land my father, Wayne “Buzz” Bindl, farmed was similar and I’m sure this was one of the driving reasons he started no-tilling back in the early 1980s.
WATCHING SOME OF the best soils we owned wash away in a big storm accelerated my family’s move to 100% no-till. My father, James, had tried no-tilling in the late 1960s, starting with soybeans behind the small amount of wheat we grew at that point.
Some of the soils I helped farm as a child in southwestern North Dakota are probably somewhere in South Dakota now. I grew up in the era of wheat and summer fallow. A lot of the ground around here is very sandy and marginal. Did it ever blow when we were tilling. I remember as a kid getting sent with a disc or a drag to try and make it stop blowing. It seemed so futile, and it was.
WHEN WE STEP into our office, soil conservation posters serve to remind us why we do the things we do on our farm. Our soils need to be protected and nourished to keep waterways healthy and the nation’s food supply sustainable.
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