Get to know the no-tillers
A regional guide to the participants in The Rodale Institute's
No-Till Plus project.

December 14, 2006: Want to learn more about the participants in The Rodale Institute's No-Till Plus project? You've come to the right place. For the benefit of our readers, here's an annotated list, organized by region, of the farmers and researchers working on the project.

Juan Carlos Diaz-Perez
Associate Professor, UGA Coastal Plain

Assisting collaborator:
Frederick “Rick” Reed

Assisting collaborator:
Sharad Phatak
Professor, UGA Coastal Plain

Mike Nugent

Mark Vickers


Ron Morse

Vegetable Crops Research, Virginia Tech

Paul Davis
Providence Forge

Kathleen Delate
Asst. Professor/Organic Specialist,
Iowa State University

Ron Rosmann

Dale Mutch
Sustainable ag research technician,
Michigan State University

Jim Kratz

Joe Pirrone

David Jansma

Dan Schwailler

Pat Sheridan


Seth Dabney
Research agronomist, USDA/ARS

Perrin Grissom

Steve Zwinger
Research Specialist-Agronomy,
North Dakota State University

Blaine Schmaltz

Jeff Mitchell
UC Kearney Agricultural Center

Assisting collaborator:
Anil Shrestha
Weed Ecologist, University of California West Side Research and Extension Center

Paul Muller and Andrew Brait
Full Belly Farm

Tom and Denesse Willey


Dave Wilson
Agronomist, The Rodale Institute

Steve Groff

Kirby Reichert

Bill Curran
Penn State University
University Park
  John Teasdale
USDA ARS-Beltsville Research Center




Juan Carlos Diaz-Perez
Associate Professor
226 Horticulture Building
UGA Coastal Plain Experiment Station
CAES Tifton Campus
Tifton, GA 31793
phone: 229-391-6861 or 229-386-3355
f ax: 229-386-3356
assisting coordinator

Frederick "Rick" Reed is a former ag extension agent for Coffee County, in southern Georgia. Reed started working with no-till in 1988, when a group of farmers in his district came to him looking for new ways to farm that would be at once more profitable and better for the environment. By 1994, Reed had helped the farmers form a local Conservation Tillage Alliance, and by 2001 had organized an annual Conservation Tillage School. Today, Reed works as a freelance consultant and is actively involved in a variety of efforts to advance sustainable agriculture in Georgia. He serves on the boards of the Southern Resource Conservation & Development Council and of Georgia Organics. Reed and Phatak have been collaborating on research and extension projects relating to cover cropping and conservation tillage for over two decades. "Weeds are very aggressive in southern Georgia," says Reed. "If you don't cover the soil, the weeds will do it for you—but they don't add any biomass."

502 Fox Hill Road
Douglas, GA 31535
phone: 912-384-6252 (h) or 912-393-4164 (c)

assisting coordinator

Sharad Phatak, Ph.D. (retiring as of Jan. 1, 2007) is a professor of horticulture at the University of Georgia's Coastal Plain Experiment Station in Tifton, Ga. Phatak has been a leader in organic and sustainable agricultural systems research for many years. In 2001 he received Georgia Organics' Land Steward of the Year award. In addition to research on weed management and alternative crops, Phatak has done breeding work on variety of vegetable crops and cover crops, including velvet bean, a cover crop once widely planted in the American South.

100 Horticulture Building / UGA Coastal Plain Experiment Station
CAES, Tifton Campus
Tifton, GA 31793-0748
phone: 229-386-3901


Mike Nugent is a medium-scale farmer from Willacoochee, Ga., growing peanuts, corn, cotton and soybeans. He has been experimenting with conservation tillage techniques for many years, uses dense cover crop mulches and has a keen interest in reducing herbicide use in his farming system.

70 Hobby Lane
Willacoochee, GA 31650
phone: 912-384-5355


Mark Vickers has been growing row crops on a farm in Ambrose, Ga., all his life. He raises poultry and cattle in addition to no-till peanuts, corn, cotton, and soybeans, and uses wheat, rye, and oats as cover crops. He has also begun experimenting with pigeon pea and sunn hemp as summer cover crops, and is looking forward to trying out the crimper/roller system for mechanical knockdown.

2177 Conway Vickers Road
Ambrose, GA
phone: 912-384-1217


Ronald Morse is associate professor emeritus in the department of horticulture at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va. A pioneer in the development of no-till vegetable production systems, Morse has written many papers on organic no-till of broccoli, peppers, potatoes, and other crops. He is also currently working on three other organic no-till research projects for vegetable systems, two funded through SARE and one through CSREES. (See Organic no-till for vegetable production for a New Farm story about Morse's pioneering organic no-till work.)

Vegetable Crops Research, Department of Horticulture
Virginia Tech
306C Saunders Hall
Blacksburg, VA 24061
phone: 540-231-6724
f ax: 540-231-3083


Paul Davis grew up on a 1000-acre grain and vegetable farm in New Kent, Va. He has an undergraduate degree in Integrated Pest Management and a master's degree in Weed Science, both from Virginia Tech. For the past 15 years he has served as a Virginia Cooperative Extension ag agent for New Kent and Charles City Counties, specializing in grain and forages. He also farms 400 acres of 'never-till' corn, soybeans, wheat and pumpkins.

Virginia Cooperative Extension
P.O.Box 310, New Kent County Office
Providence Forge, VA 23140
phone: 804-966-9645
fax: 804-966-5013

OR, at the farm:
P.O. Box 161
New Kent, VA 23124
phone: 804-966-7118




Kathleen Delate, Ph.D., is Iowa State University extension specialist in organic agriculture and an associate professor in the ISU departments of agronomy and horticulture. Delate's research work is centered at the 160-acre Neely-Kinyon Research Farm in southwest Iowa. (See Leading the way in organic ag research and extension for more on Delate and her research and extension work.)

Asst. Professor/Organic Specialist
Depts. of Agronomy/Horticulture
Iowa State University
106 Horticulture Hall
Ames, IA 50011
phone: 515-294-7069
f ax: 515-294-0730

Ron Rosmann
Rosmann Family Farms
1222 Ironwood Road
Harlan, Iowa 51537-4102


Dale Mutch, Ph.D., is extension specialist for cover crops and IPM at Michigan State University's W. K. Kellogg Biological Station (KBS) in Hickory Corners, Mich. Mutch has more than two decades of research and extension experience in low-input and organic farming systems, and he currently manages eight certified organic research acres. His applied research focuses on participatory projects using farmer advisory teams. Recent Extension publications include "No-till drilling cover crops after wheat harvest and their influence on next season’s corn" (E-2897), "Cover crop choices for Michigan" (E-2884) and "Integrated weed management" (E-2931).

Mutch and his colleagues at KBS have been experimenting with organic no-till methods for several years, so when they read about the Institute's roller they were eager to give it a try. With advice from Jeff Moyer and funding from a Michigan State Green grant, they built a 10-ft roller in 2004 based on the Institute's design and used it to drill no-till soybeans into cover crop of rye and hairy vetch. "We had terrific success with it—we got 62-bushel feed grade organic soybeans, and weed control was excellent," says Mutch. Results like that have sparked strong interest among Michigan farmers, both organic and conventional, but Mutch cautions that some of it may have been luck. This season they plan to test the system again in eight treatments, including wheat and triticale cover crops. "We hope to use the data from this year to give farmers our best recommendations for [using the roller on their farms in] the following year."

Integrated Pest Management
Michigan State University
W. K. Kellogg Biological Station
3700 E. Gull Lake Drive
Hickory Corners, MI 49060
toll-free: 800-521-2619 x224
phone: 269-671-2412 x224


Pat Sheridan and his son Pat Sheridan, Jr., farm 1800 acres of no-till wheat, corn, soybeans, and sugar beet in Fairgrove, Mich. The Sheridans first tried experimenting with no-till in the 1970s and went totally no-till in 1992. They have use a variety of cover crops, including rye, oilseed radish, and Austrian winter peas. They have seen a dramatic increase in soil organic matter and tilth and continue to search for the best combination of cover crops and planting equipment to cut costs and increase yields.

2101 N. Sheridan Road
Fairgrove, MI 48733
phone: 989-673-2984 or 989-550-0072 (c)
fax: 989-673-5984


Jim Kratz ( farms approximately 300 acres in the 'thumb' of Michigan, raising corn, soybeans, wheat, and hay. He also works for the Tuscola County Soil Conservation District, overseeing the district drill program and the Conservation Reserve Enhancement program. Kratz has been "one hundred percent no-till" for the past 10 to 15 years, and uses rye, oilseed radish, and Austrian winter peas as cover crops. He's excited about trying out the roller, he says, although he suggests that it should be wider to be more efficient on larger fields.

1075 Cleaver Road
Caro, MI 48723
phone: 989-673-8174 or 989-553-0249 (c)

  Joe Pirrone
Yale MI 48097
phone: 810-395-2673

David Jansma
Nashville MI 49073

  Dan Schwallier
Coopersville, MI
phone: 616-299-2285




Seth Dabney, Ph.D., is a research agronomist with the Upland Erosion Processes Research unit of the USDA-ARS National Sedimentation Laboratory in Oxford, Miss. A staunch advocate of no-till, Dabney has done work on no-tilling rice into crimson/subterranean clover mixes and on no-tilling cotton into cover crops of wheat. Dabney had the opportunity to travel to Brazil to see the no-till methods in use there, and came back with a heightened appreciation of the potential for herbicide-free, cover crop-based no-till farming. "In South America, they say you can't do no-till without cover crops," he explains, adding, "I like [The Rodale Institute's] roller design better than any one I've seen—and I've seen a lot of different systems."

USDA-ARS National Sedimentation Laboratory
P.O. Box 1157
598 McElroy Drive
Oxford, MS 38655
phone: 662-232-2975
fax: 662-232-2988


Perrin Grissom has been farming since 1974 and practicing no-till since the mid 1980s. He currently grows 400 acres of skip-row cotton on his 880-acre farm in Stoneville, Miss., with the balance of the land enrolled in the Wetland Reserve Program. He also helped found and serves on the board of the Delta Conservation Demonstration Center in Greenville, Miss. He hopes to have 10 acres at the Conservation Center dedicated to testing out the no-till roller using rye as a cover crop. Disease and pest problems—especially lygus bugs—make cotton production in the Delta region a challenging business, says Grissom, but no-tilling with cover crops can help minimize inputs.

P.O. Box 344
Stoneville, MS 38776
phone: 662-822-6769




Steve Zwinger is a research specialist in agronomy at the NDSU Carrington Research Extension Center in east central North Dakota. A native North Dakotan, Zwinger has been working for the CREC since 1982, primarily focusing on new variety evaluation and, more recently, working with cover crops. "There's a lot of no-till out here, and a few people are looking towards organic no-till," Zwinger says, adding that frequently, as farmers become more experienced with no-till, "they start to think about their farms as biological systems, they see their pesticide use going down, and they start to think more like organic farmers."

The North Dakota researchers hope to test the roller system with soybeans planted into a cover of winter rye; and with wheat or oats planted into sweet clover cover crops (a common cropping strategy among the state's organic farmers). In addition, they hope to do some work with irrigated vegetable crops, such as onions and potatoes, and to test systems integrating rolled cover crops with grazing livestock.

NDSU Carrington Research Extension Center
P.O. Box 219
663 Hwy 281 N
Carrington, ND 58421
phone: 701-652-2951
fax: 701-652-2055

Blaine Schmaltz
6020 22nd Ave NE
Rugby, ND 58368




Jeff Mitchell, Ph.D., is a vegetable crops specialist and cropping systems researcher at the University of California's Kearney Agricultural Center in Parlier, Calif. A major focus of Mitchell's current work is finding ways to encourage adoption of conservation tillage strategies in California's San Joaquin Valley, where air quality has become a central public concern. No-till systems using cover crops and organic surface mulches to minimize wind erosion have great potential in California, Mitchell says. "Currently, less than one half of one percent of California's row-crop acreage is in conservation tillage—so we've got a long way to go."

University of California
Kearney Agricultural Center
9240 S. Riverbend Avenue
Parlier, CA 93648
phone: 559-646-6565 (o) OR 559-303-9689 (c) OR 559-897-2914 (h)
fax: 559-646-6593

assisting collaborator
  Anil Shrestha, Ph.D., weed ecologist
Integrated Pest Management Program
University of California West Side Research and Extension Center
Five Points, CA 93624
Paul Muller and Andrew Brait
Full Belly Farm (organic)
Capay, CA 95607
Tom and Denesse Willey (organic)
Madera, California 93637
phone: 559-706-9552 (c) OR 559-673-9058 (farm)




Dave Wilson, research agronomist at The Rodale Institute®, is a native Pennsylvanian with a background in dairy farming and seed production as well as traditional agronomy. Dave has been the lead researcher involved in developing and testing the TRI organic no-till system, including trialing different cover crop mixtures. Click here for Dave's tips on selecting cover crops.

The Rodale Institute
611 Siegfriedale Road
Kutztown, PA 19530-9320
phone: 610-683-1467


Steve Groff ( of Cedar Meadow Farm in Holtwood, Pa., is a well known figure within the no-till farming community. Groff has been no-till farming since the mid-1980s and hosts regular workshops and field days describing his "permanent cover cropping system." Today he practices no-till on all 225 of his acres, including 80 acres of tomatoes, pumpkins, and sweet corn. (See Nothing middling about the Mid-Atlantic for a New Farm article featuring Groff and Cedar Meadow Farm; you can also visit Groff's own website at

Cedar Meadow Farm
679 Hilldale Road
Holtwood, PA 17532-9636


Kirby Reichert farms 800 acres in Grantville, Pa., about 60 miles west of The Rodale Institute farm. Reichert has been gradually transitioning to organic—he currently has 170 certified acres—and says that he's "never liked to plow." A couple of years ago he started no-tilling his conventional corn and soybeans, and the experience has gotten him interested in the possiblity of organic no-till. "I'm real excited about this project," he comments. "Hopefully I can try the roller on both my conventional and my organic fields."

311 Farmall Road
Grantville, PA 17028-9362
phone: 717-469-2307





John Teasdale, Ph.D., has been with the USDA Agricultural Research Service's Beltsville Agricultural Research Center for 26 years. A specialist in weed science, Teasdale began working with cover crops in the mid-1980s and today serves as research leader for BARC's Sustainable Agricultural Systems Lab.

USDA ARS-Beltsville Research Center
5601 Sunnyside Avenue
Beltsville MD 20705
phone: 301- 504-5504


Bill Curran, Ph.D., is a professor of weed science in Pennsylvania State University's Department of Crop and Soil Sciences. His current research focuses on the management of herbaceous perennial weeds, herbicide-resistant weeds, and weed management in conservation tillage systems.

Penn State University
210 ASI Bldg
University Park, PA 16802
phone: 814-863-1014