While Dick Thompson was clearly first and foremost a farmer, one might argue that he had all of the qualifications of a topnotch researcher. Since 1986, he experimented with new rotations and new ways to build the soil. Much of his work with PFI was to spread the word about what he and other innovators were doing.
Dick and Sharon hosted many field days for PFI on their central Iowa farm
Dick raised crops and livestock with his family. In addition to hosting many field day events for PFI, he and Sharon traveled worldwide presenting seminars pertaining to farming and agriculture. In earlier years Dick was a 4-H leader and helped with the 4-H swine department at the county fair. He served on the Boone County Fair Board and as a Soil and Water Conservation District Commissioner for Boone County. His life was his farm and he loved agricultural research.
According to Dick, "Using replicated and randomized test strips that run the length of the field and are farmer manageable has helped us to determine what practices are right for this farm." He added: "Every farm is different; you cannot buy the answers in a bag. What we share is the research from our farm; others have to decide what is doable for their farms."
"Dick Thompson was a curious, highly principled, wise and humble man," says PFI co-founder Larry Kallem. "He was exceedingly generous with the knowledge he gained in a lifetime of on-farm research into profitable and constructive farming practices. He mentored many hundreds of people and affected the lives of thousands, some of them in other parts of the world, as they sought to follow what he did. He changed lives for the better."
Dick Thompson was a skilled teacher as well as a listener and learner
Jeff Klinge, a farmer and Practical Farmers board member, says that Dick's "recordkeeping and willingness to share it set an example for us all. Dick had great people skills and was both a teacher, and listener and learner. He was a key personality in our lives." According to beginning farmer James Frantzen, "Dick will forever be in our hearts and memories as PFI grows another 25, 50, 100 years."