When it comes to ranking the most important developments in American agriculture over the past 75 years, a panel of conservationists recently placed no-till right at the top of the list.
This discussion took place a few weeks back as the Conservation Technology Information Center (CTIC) in West Lafayette, Ind., celebrated its 30th anniversary. Back in 1982, over 40% of the nation’s cropland was eroding at an alarming rate and most growers were still relying on moldboard plows and heavy discs for tillage.
The goal was to provide a central clearing house where farmers, suppliers, government agencies and organizations could find the latest conservation information. The group has lived up to its goal, as CTIC serves as a model of what can be accomplished around the world.
Right from the start, the group saw many advantages of getting more farmers to no-till. In 1982 when CTIC become a reality, 11.5 million acres were no-tilled, an increase from the 3.3 million acres no-tilled in 1972 when No-Till Farmer was started. The latest USDA survey places the no-till acreage at 88 million acres in 2009.
During the meeting, no-till was named as the most significant conservation development since World War II. Yet other nominations show the importance of taking a no-till systems approach.
Veteran no-tiller Bill Richards from Circleville, Ohio, placed no-till at the top of his list of developments in American agriculture. Richards and his sons have been no-tilling for 40 years and the former chief of the Natural…