A photo from a 2024 National No-Tillage Conference attendee puts into perspective just how much soil can erode away in a lifetime.  

Eric Fulling, a no-tiller from Palestine, Ill., had a wet spot out in his field due to a broken tile line. He knew a clay tile system was dug into the field 90 years ago, so he went out with a tile probe to find the tile.

Several attempts to locate the tile with the probe were unsuccessful, and Fulling resorted to using a backhoe to dig up the tile line. He found it eventually — 5 feet below the surface.

Fulling’s photo shows where the original topsoil line was when the clay tile was put in 90 years ago, about 2½ feet below the surface. He says the additional 2½ feet of soil washed down from a hill above the field, which doesn’t even have that steep of a slope.

“Just think about that — in 90 years, 3 feet of soil had washed in and covered up that bottom land and created that problem,” says No-Till Legend Randall Reeder.

Reeder talked about the photo and the detrimental effects of soil erosion during the No-Till Innovators and Experts panel at the National No-Tillage Conference. In the coming months, No-Till Farmer will publish more insights from the panel discussion, which featured retired USDA deputy secretary of agriculture Jim Moseley, No-Till Innovator Ray McCormick, No-Till Legend Paul Jasa and No-Till Legend Barry Fisher. Subscribe to No-Till Farmer magazine and sign up for our free daily email newsletter for the latest updates. 

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