John Dobberstein

Passing No-Till Onto the Next Generation

While brain drain has been a problem in family farming for quite a while, there are still plenty of children who go to college and return home to participate in the family business. And in the coming years there will be one of the biggest transfers of farm ownership in history.

This is no small matter. An estimated 93 million acres — 10% of all the nation’s farmland — is slated to change hands by 2019. A majority of the transfers will be accomplished through wills, trusts or gifts, the USDA says. About 21 million acres may be sold between people who aren’t related, while 13 million acres is expected to be sold from one relative to another.

Obviously, there’s no guarantee that opinions on farm management are going to mesh with family members, and that may even include disagreements over whether to adopt no-till or start seeding cover crops. There are a lot of acres at stake, and perceptions about whether no-till works or doesn’t work could determine how much the practice continues to grow in the U.S.

While attending the Southern Soil Health Conference in Ardmore, Okla., earlier this year, an attendee asked a panel of no-tillers — some of them relatively new to the practice — how they handle making these big changes with fathers, grandfathers and or children around.

Here’s what they had to say:

John Heerman, Haxtun, Colo.: I dragged my Dad to a

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John dobberstein2

John Dobberstein

John Dobberstein is senior editor of No-Till Farmer magazine and the e-newsletter Dryland No-TillerHe previously covered agriculture for the Tulsa World and worked for daily newspapers in Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Joseph, Mich. He graduated with a B.A. in journalism and political science from Central Michigan University.

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