In the late 1970s, Joe Beam noticed a neighbor was testing out a new approach to farming: planting without tilling the land. His interest was piqued.
The fifth-generation grain farmer watched closely over the next few years as his neighbor continued to successfully grow crops without plowing. In 1982, Joe tested the no-till method at Beam Springs, a family-owned corn and soybean operation nestled in southwestern Ohio’s lush Miami Valley.
“We certainly felt like it was promising enough that it was worth continuing,” Joe says. “And by 1985, we were 100 percent no-till.”
With minimal disturbance to the land and to the organisms living in the soil, no-till plowing results in a host of environmental benefits, such as reduced erosion, increased water filtration, nutrient retention and healthier soil. It’s now been 35 years since the Beam family fully adopted the no-till technique, and they are reaping the benefits: There is virtually no soil erosion on their Xenia, Ohio, farm, and previously degraded soils have largely been restored.
“For me, it’s exciting to get up and see the progress we’re making regenerating our soils,” says Mike Beam, who runs the farm alongside his father. Soil is their biggest resource, he adds, and it’s much easier to lose than it is to rebuild.
“That’s a big deal to me,” Mike says. “I don’t take that lightly.”
The Beams are committed to protecting and even enhancing the land on which their family has proudly farmed for five generations.
“I have no doubt that God made me a farmer. This is how I bring him glory,” Joe says. “It’s what I want to do till I die.”