We recently published information from our 13th Annual No-Till Operational Benchmark Survey. Globally, we received more than 900 responses. Of those, 678 U.S. growers shared details of their operations.
The average total cropping acres of the U.S. no-tillers who responded was 1,123 for 2020. But it turns out this average really doesn't tell the whole story as not only does it not represent the wide range of sizes in these operations, it's also considerably higher than the majority of responses. In fact, only about 9.5% of responses actually fell within the 1,000-1,249 acre range, and the vast majority of the responses came in below 1,000 acres. Only 28.5% of growers reported more than 1,250 cropping acres, meaning nearly two-thirds of the respondents said they are cropping fewer than 1,000 acres.
MORE SMALL FARMS. A breakdown of cropping acres reported in the 2020 No-Till Operations Benchmark Survey shows a large array of responses. While the average acreage was 1,123, nearly two-thirds of respondents actually reported fewer than 1,000 acres.
When we break operations below 2,000 acres into 250-acre segments, the largest single group was farmers with fewer than 250 acres, at 22%. Farmers with 250-499 acres and those with 500-749 were close behind at 16% and 15% respectively and operations with 750-999 acres came in at 9%.
As stated, 1,000-1,249 acres came in at 9.5% and the next three segments (1,250-1,499, 1,500-1,749 and 1,750-1,999) came in at 4.5%, 4% and 3%.
There are progressively fewer operations with more than 2,000 acres, so those we looked at those in 1,000-acre segments, which came in at 8.7% farmers with 2,000-2,999 acres, 4% with 3,000-3,999 acres, 2% with 4,000-4,999 acres, and 1% with 5,000-5,999 aces. Those operations with 6,000-15,000 acres came in at 1.4% combined.
At the extremes, we had just a few growers reporting fewer than 10 acres or more than 10,000 acres, with the lowest number of acres being 4 and the highest being 15,000.
Obviously, there are vast operational differences between farms with just a few acres and those with many thousands, but it's neat to see that no-till can be successfully implemented no matter the scope.
It's also a good reminder that small family farms still make up the majority of farming operations, despite the mainstream media's focus on large-scale farms and "Big Ag." According to the USDA, while the majority of production comes from larger operations, "the contributions of small family farms is still considerable. They numbered about 800,000 of the 2.2 million U.S. farms in 2007, and the value of their output exceeded the production of all Corn Belt farms. And many small operations remain profitable."