Author: Amy Bickel | Published: May 21, 2018
Joe Swanson’s turning point came in 1991.
The Rice County, Kansas farmer had just bought a Plains Plow, with 30-inch sweeps and a shank in the middle. It was designed to undercut weeds while leaving residue on his fields.
The field looked beautiful the day he worked it. That changed overnight.
“We had a 3- to 4-inch downpour,” he said. “I drove by that field the next day and every furrow, every 30 inches, had washed out about 6 to 10 inches, however deep I ran that shank. It made me sick.”
He realized his erosion issues would continue if he kept tilling.
“I said, that is it. We’ve been no-till ever since.”
On a May morning, Swanson stood in that same field that converted him 26 years ago, talking to a group of farmers during a No-Till on the Plains field day. His mission is to eliminate erosion and rebuild soil health.
The journey, he said, hasn’t been easy. But Swanson sees changes across his fields. He uses fewer inputs. His soils are healthier.