Frankly-Speaking Logo

A long-time friend and booster of the many benefits of no-till, strip-till and cover crops has been recognized as a fellow member of the Conservation Technology Information Center (CTIC) Hall of Fame.

For 10 years from 1995-2005, Dan Towery was the face of the CTIC group. He was the guy that farmers would see in the field explaining conservation and soil health principles and helping them succeed with challenging new systems during a time when the North American no-till acreage continued to expand.

Helped Boost No-Till Acreage

“Dan brought humor, empathy, science and a deep commitment for conservation to every farm he visited and every project he led,” says Ryan Heiniger, CTIC executive director of the inaugural Hall of Fame member who was recognized earlier this month. “His experience as a soil scientist, agronomist and district conservationist provided a great foundation for his work with CTIC.

Dan Towert at 30th Panel

Never one to shy away from a microphone, Dan Towery was always ready to shares his opinions, thoughts and insights on the all-important role of adopting conservation practices in agriculture’s success,

“His numerous presentations at a wide variety of ag events, through articles and publications along with one-on-one conversations with farmers across the Corn Belt — as well as in South America — helped boost the adoption of conservation tillage and no-till on countless acres.”

As the CTIC Natural Resources Specialist (USDA/NRCS) liaison with CTIC (a public/private partnership), Dan organized the biannual National Crop Residue Management Survey. He also provided information relating to best agronomy practices, precision farming and soil quality to growers, the ag media, scientists, educators, government agencies, consultants and agribusinesses.

“Dan Towery is an important part of CTIC’s DNA, and it is an honor to recognize him and his dedicated work as a member of the CTIC Hall of Fame,” says Heiniger.

Dan Towery at Tour

Dan Towery (hat at right) measures the water infiltration level with corn that was no-tilled into a burned down stand of annual ryegrass. Looking on at the Starkey family’s Brownsburg, Ind.. farm, are (l-r) no-tillers Mike, Jeff and Nick Starkey.

After graduating from Western Illinois University, Dan spent 4 years as a fertilizer plant manager and county soil scientist before going to work in 1981 as a NRCS district conservationist. Moving up through the NRCS ranks, he served as the Illinois state agronomist from 1992-1995 before moving to CTIC.

Drawing on his 25 years of experience with NRCS, Dan founded Ag Conservation Solutions in 2005. In this role, he provided national expertise and knowledge about no-till, cover crops, soil quality, biotechnology, precision farming and other conservation practices to farmers, consultants, agribusinesses, ag organizations, ag media, government agencies, foundations and others.

Bruce Knight, Ray Brownfield, and Dan Towery

During a session break (from left-to-right), former NRCS chief Bruce Knight, previous CTIC president Ray Brownfield and Dan Towery share ideas on ways to encourage farmers to use conservation practices more effectively. .

Major Contributor to NNTC Success

Besides being honored as a No-Till Innovator Award winner in 2005, Dan was also named as a No-Till Farmer Legend in 2005 for his passion for soil health and conservation.

His NNTC experiences include being part of 27 of the 32 annual mid-winter No-Till Farmer sponsored National No-Tillage Conferences and serving more than a dozen times as a general session or classroom speaker. He also served numerous times as a No-Till Roundtable moderator and was honored for having the year’s best NNTC presentations.

Over the years, I watched Dan answer countless no-till questions from NNTC attendees in the hallways between sessions. While I was the butt of many of jokes and banter on stage, there’s one specific NNTC memory I’d like to share with you.

“All I could do was smile …” 

After agreeing to be a NNTC speaker one year, Dan had gotten extra busy and missed several reminders from me to jot down a paragraph or two on what his NNTC presentation was going to cover. Up against a program deadline, I wrote the summary for Dan —the only speaker who had not delivered his summary on time.

Once he saw the 16-page program that was mailed to 40,000 farmers, he called and hollered at me ;he said he hadn’t agreed to talk about that subject. After I introduced him at that year’s event, Dan told the audience that I had written his summary and it was not what he wanted to talk about. Yet he never told them how he had missed 6 deadlines up to the deadline to send the program to the printer. All I could do was smile.

But guess what? After that, Dan never missed another deadline for getting a summary of his NNTC speaking topic to me on time.

Here’ a short video from the 25th annual NNTC celebration held in 2017 in St. Louis that features several of Dan’s antics. 

Take A Bow, Mr. Towery

As a CTIC Hall of Fame member who followed Dan in this inaugural class, I can tell you personally that is a major honor. Dan, from all of us here at No-Till Farmer, Cover Crop Strategies and the National No-Tillage Conference, thank you for all of the contributions you’ve made to the growth of conservation practices.