He was right. Shortly after that first harvest, Phillips sat up no-till research plots on Young’s farm and became a major advocate for the no-till movement.

“In addition to stopping erosion, no-till agriculture has several benefits including improved soil quality, increased soil organic matter, easier and faster, and saves producers time, money, labor and stress,” Murdock said.

No-till research had been going on for some time before Young’s first crop, but was largely unsuccessful due to weed control issues. Young used the herbicides 2, 4-D and atrazine for weed control and used a modified mule-drawn, two-row planter he pulled behind a small tractor to put the first crop in the ground.

When it appeared that Young’s first crop was going to be a success, Davie scheduled a field day for other producers to see Young’s plot.

“It was a busy time for about 10 years,” John Young said. “Typically, we’d have one tour a week or one tour every two weeks during the growing season. The tours would come from all over the United States as well as Argentina, Brazil, Spain and South Africa.”

Some farmers readily began using no-tillage, but others were hesitant and didn’t come on board until better machinery and weed control methods became available in the 1980s.Today, Murdock said that about 70 percent of the state’s wheat acreage, 50 percent of the corn acreage and 80 percent of soybean acreage is no-till. 

The Youngs continue to no-till as much of their crop acreage as possible and planted their 51st no-till crop this year.

“No-till is about as sustainable as you can get,” John Young said. “The ground is sustained; the food supply is sustained, and the human race is sustained.”

More information about the UK Plant and Soil Sciences Department’s celebration of the 50th anniversary of no-till will be available in the coming weeks at http://www.ca.uky.edu/PSS/.