Editor’s Note: In his March 22 blog at www.no-tillfarmer.com, Executive Editor/Publisher Darrell Bruggink responded to a claim that John Deere had pioneered the no-tillage practice. Here’s his blog text:
When Al Gore invented the Internet (yes, you do detect a hint of sarcasm here), he probably had no idea what a powerful tool it would become. You can access so much information, so quickly, it’s really quite unbelievable.
Unfortunately, that’s what a lot of information you find on the Internet is — it’s unbelievable. For example, the creation of blogs has not necessarily been a good thing because a lot of people posing as legitimate, credible reporters are offering up a lot of misinformation. (That should serve as a reminder to myself of the awesome responsibility journalists have.)
So, just because you read it on the Internet doesn’t means it’s true. That said, we were left scratching our head when we read an introductory statement on a John Deere Web site page about Sustainable Agriculture.
The text on this Web page begins like this: “Why would John Deere — the company founded on the invention of the plow — pioneer no-till farming practices?” (Note: Click on the Sustainable Agriculture tab to see this Web page.)
To me, that statement claims that John Deere didn’t just pioneer the first equipment made for the no-till industry, but it apparently pioneered the practice itself.
For an opinion of that, I went to no better source than Frank Lessiter himself, who has been the editor of No-Till Farmer for all 40 years of the publication’s existence.
It’s been long held that Harry Young Jr. of Herndon, Ky., was among the first farmers to practice no-tillage in 1962. He used a home-rigged Allis-Chalmers planter to no-till 0.2 acres of corn.
In fact, Harry’s son, John, conducted a classroom session at the National No-Tillage Conference in January on no-tilling wheat. If you want more history on Harry Young, check out this Web page. It includes a photo of John standing next to an historical marker on the farm.
Even John is quick to credit that his father got the idea of no-till from somewhere else. During his classroom session, John noted that his dad saw a small test plot in 1961 at Dixon Springs, Ill., conducted by George McKibben. And even before McKibben, the author Edward Faulkner wrote The Plowman’s Folly.
So, I guess we’re not quite willing to hand over the trophy of “No-Till Pioneers” to John Deere. Even from an equipment perspective, Allis-Chalmers appears to have taken a look at Harry Young’s modified no-till corn planter and been the first company to manufacture and market a corn planter specific to no-till. In 1966, they introduced the first fluted-coulter no-till planter.
Let’s not dismiss the fact that years later, John Deere made an extremely popular no-till drill — the 750 — that has stood the test of time, or that it has designed some popular no-till corn planters in its day.
But to be the self-proclaimed “pioneers of no-till,” this just appears to be pat-on-the-back marketing spin. Besides, everybody knows that Al Gore invented no-till.