FRANKFORT — No-till planting, a practice that first found success in Kentucky, is celebrating 60 years next year. And for only the second time in its 30-year history, the National No-Tillage Conference, the event that celebrates and encourages no-till practices for agriculture, will be back in Kentucky, Commissioner of Agriculture Dr. Ryan Quarles announced.
“We are excited to once again host the National No-Tillage Conference,” Commissioner Quarles said. “Since the practice first found success in Kentucky in 1962, it’s only fitting we welcome the conference that celebrates and encourages this agricultural execution, back home to where it all began. No-till planting has changed the way Kentucky farmers can work the land for the benefit of all.”
The National No-Tillage Conference is set for Jan. 4-7 at the Galt House in Louisville. The four-day event will include information from leading no-tillers, agronomists, researchers and other no-till experts sharing ideas for farmers to get the most out of their no-till farming system.
Although the idea of no-till farming had been researched for years, it wasn’t until 1962 that Christian County, Kentucky, farmer Harry Young had the first successful commercial crop of no-till corn. Using a combination of herbicides and atrazine for weed control and a mule-powered planter, Young harvested 0.7 acres of corn using this new method. It was a method needed by Kentucky farmers who were having issues with soil erosion with regular agricultural practices on the state’s rolling hills.
Sixty years later, the no-till movement is mainstream. Now more than 104 million U.S. acres are in no-till productions, according to the 2017 agriculture census. Agricultural producers are still eager to learn more about the practice. The national conference is expecting as many as 1,000 attendees in January.
To help farmers in Kentucky and other southern states take a more operative approach to their soil conservation practices, the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (SSARE) program has provided scholarship funding to support farmers attending the National No-Tillage Conference for the first time.
“We are honored to announce this first-ever scholarship, which reflects the importance of soil health, continued education on best conservation practices,” said Frank Lessiter, founding editor of the No-Till Farmer publication and the 30th annual National No-Tillage Conference. “We are grateful to SSARE for the scholarships for first-time conference attendees, and also to the Kentucky Department of Ag and Commissioner Quarles for its support and welcome of farmers as the event returns to no-till’s Kentucky birthplace in 1962 — 60 years later.”
The scholarship covers the full registration fee of $449 for the four-day event. To apply for the scholarship (limited to first-time attendees from southern states), visit www.no-tillfarmer.com/NNTCscholarship. The application process will be first-come, first-served through Dec. 15, 2021.
— Kentucky Department of Agriculture