Search This Blog

Monday, August 18, 2014

No-Till Farming Statistics

No-Till Farmer did a fine job compiling data related to tillage and conservation in their August Conservation Tillage Guide. They report that nearly 35% of cropland acreage is no-till.  It is gratifying to see the progress in changing tillage practice.  When I was a young soil scientist in Madison County, we were still trying to find encouraging news about chisel plowing.  In Illinois only 25% of acreage is no-tilled.  We used to rank higher.  The soil savings with no-till is just the start of the benefits. Preserving organic matter, conserving fertility, and controlling traffic paterns are other important benefits. 

Tools to make no-till easier to implement continue to improve.  No-till rippers, vertical tillage tools and cover crops all help to improve soil tilth. Around 1996 I worked as an acting District Conservationist for NRCS after several years away from working directly with farmers.  Round-up Ready soybeans seemed like a miracle for weed control especially in no-till. Unfortunately, that miracle turned problematic all too soon.

As we toured the Texas Panhandle a few weeks ago, my son and I were asking why we are not seeing more no-tilled cotton. Texas has only 8.8% of its acres  in no-till. Only 20% of cotton acres are no-tilled. The stats prove out our observation.  There is still room for growth in no-till acres. 

No comments: