Ask any sports fan if the best player on their team is a Hall of Famer. It’s sure to generate a passionate debate every single time, especially with baseball savants.

Hall of Famer is one of the most prestigious honors in any industry, which is why I’m excited to announce that Lessiter Media has established the Strip-Till Hall of Fame, to celebrate the rich history of the practice by honoring the trailblazers who helped move it forward. 

“As the strip-till acreage continues to grow, we felt it was time to honor some of the innovators who played a key role in promoting the benefits of this reduced tillage system,” says Frank Lessiter, founder of Lessiter Media and Strip-Till Farmer editor.  

The inaugural Strip-Till Hall of Fame class includes a trio of living legends — Richard Follmer, Jim Kinsella and Tony Vyn.

Hudson, Ill., farmer Richard Follmer, often referred to as the “Grandfather of Strip-Till,” designed one of the first commercially successful strip-till rigs for Midwestern growers dealing with cold soils. 

“We built a homemade 12-row bar with some crude row units at first to kind of clear a path in the field,” Follmer says. “We went into production in 1992. We had to figure out what to call it, and the only thing we could think of was ‘strip-till.’ I knew we had hit a home run with strip-till when no-till purist Jim Kinsella adopted it.”

Hall of Famer Jim Kinsella, who farms in Lexington, Ill., helped pioneer no-till farming systems in the U.S. He enjoyed great success with no-till soybeans but found that corn was always slow to start. One year, he noticed the corn in the tracks of anhydrous tanks grew higher than that in the rest of the field. The rest is history — he’s been strip-tilling corn ever since. 

“We get all the benefits of no-till by getting and keeping a lot more moisture in the ground, but we also warm the seedbed,” Kinsella says. “We’ve got the residue in the middle. We can keep the earthworms and all the microbes. It really is the best of both worlds.” 

Kinsella worked with Follmer’s company to help create some of the earliest strip-till equipment. An estimated 90,000 farmers have attended strip-till workshops on his farms over the years. 

Hall of Famer Tony Vyn is considered one of strip-till’s foremost authorities after a professional career spent studying the practice from its earliest days. He joined the department of agronomy at Purdue University in 1998 and was appointed to the Henry A. Wallace chair in crop sciences in 2018. 

Vyn spoke at the inaugural National Strip-Tillage Conference in 2014, calling strip-till the “almost perfect” system. He’s been outspoken about the benefits of strip-till and opportunities for growth.

“I believe to get to the next level, we’ve got to have a decidedly stronger push from our public institutions, as well as from soil conservation specialists,” Vyn said at the 2020 National Strip-Tillage Conference. 

“Understand that I am, first and foremost, a public researcher. That said, I would like there to be the same buzz and investment in strip-till that there’s been for cover crops and soil health over the last 5 years.” 

Congratulations to Richard Follmer, Jim Kinsella and Tony Vyn. The Hall of Famers will be honored at the 2023 National Strip-Tillage Conference Aug. 2-4 in Bloomington, Ill.