Thompson Farms - 2013 Kentucky No-Till Hero Award Recipient
The Kentucky Conservation Partnership recognizes Thompson Farms as 2013 No-Till Hero award recipients. This award honors distinguished efforts to improve soil quality through the adoption of no-till agriculture. Thank you for your determination to improve the environmental outcomes on your farm and your outstanding commitment to protect our natural resources.
Back in the early 1980’s, a new-fangled piece of farm equipment caught the attention of Glen Thompson. Back then, it was called a hard-land drill, now known as a no-till planter. The no-till planter would eventually revolutionize the way a seed could be put in the ground but in the early 1980’s it was still a pretty novel idea. At that time, there were very few people in Marshall County that were even willing to try this new approach to planting. The old timers would tell you that the ground had to be ‘loosened’, ‘aired out’, or ‘stirred’ in order for it to be productive. Thankfully there were others who would not give up the idea that no-till could work and work well.
Glen began planting no-till corn in 1982 and as no-till technology advanced to include the ability to plant soybeans and wheat he incorporated these crops into his no-till operation. Glen will tell you that the planter and patience are the keys to being successful with no-till.
For Glen’s farming operation, his labor force is just he and his son Brandon, so being efficient is a must for their operation. They rotate corn, wheat, and soybeans on about 600 acres with all crops being no-tilled. They farm land with highly erodible silt loam soils that also have a fragipan as well as well-drained bottom fields - no-till works in a variety of cropland conditions. Glen has been able to eliminate the vast majority of the farm’s soil erosion on the highly erodible fields with continuous no-till.
Energy savings is one of the many benefits of healthy soil. Glen says they have seen a tremendous savings on the amount of fuel used to start each crop year as well as maintenance cost on equipment. Fewer trips across the fields have reduced the wear and tear on equipment and extended the life of the tires.
Glen pulls soil tests on a regular basis and has also observed the pH level in his fields have remained fairly constant. He has also been able to reduce seed populations without compromising yields and has seen less weed competition due to the continuous carpet of residue that is present on the surface of the land.
The drought of 2012 was quite an eye-opener for the row crop farmers in Western Kentucky. Like everyone else, Glen’s yields were seriously impacted by the severe lack of rainfall as well as the extremely high temperatures experienced in 2012. However, his yields were well above the yields on neighboring fields. For Glen, a 25 bushels/acre soybean yield would not be much to brag about but it looked pretty good compared to the 7 bushels/acre soybean crop at a neighboring farm.
Glen has been committed to no-till farming for over 30 years and would not have it any other way. His son Brandon has been brought up in this world of no-till and plans to follow in his Dad’s footsteps when one day he takes over the operation. Glen’s commitment has kept him viable in the ever-changing world of agriculture and he has made an enormous contribution to the soil health of the land he tends.