Key Factors Impact No-Till

Profit is likly the most important factor that influences a grower’s decision to adopt conservation practices such as no-till. While numerous studies have shown higher yields and profits when moving away from extensive tillage practices, other studies have shown a reduction in yields when shifting to no-till.

Researchers at the University of Tennessee recently reviewed numerous research studies to evaluate the impact of crop yields by switching from extensive tillage to no-till. The researchers looked at factors such as crop species, the year the experiment began, the time since conversion from doing tillage, annual precipitation, soil texture and geographic location that were evaluated in research plots.

They analyzed data gathered from 30 years of referred research journal articles based on 442 experiments where no-till was compared with conventional tillage, strip-till, ridge till and mulch-till. This included 92 locations across the U.S. where data was evaluated for corn, soybeans, wheat, grain sorghum, oats and cotton.

Soils Make A Difference

“This analysis indicates that no-till does not perform as well as tillage on a sandy-textured soil,” says Tennessee researcher Dustin Toliver. “For wheat and soybeans on a sandy-textured soil, the likelihood of lower no-till yields than tillage yields was larger than on a loamy-textured soil.”

The yield differences between no-till and tillage in silt soils was less than the differences found with loam soils. This indicates no-till performs better on well-drained soils, but does not yield as well with finely textured or poorly drained soils such as silty soils.

Differences between no-till…

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Frank Lessiter

Frank Lessiter has served as editor of No-Till Farmer since the publication was launched in November of 1972. Raised on a six-generation Michigan Centennial Farm, he has spent his entire career in agricultural journalism. Lessiter is a dairy science graduate from Michigan State University.

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