No-Tillers More Profitable Than Conventional Farmers

Long-term economic study of Kansas farmers shows how controlling costs provides consistent bottom-line results.

No-tillers earn more profit than other farmers, on average, according to research at Kansas State University.

For the past 10 years, agricultural economists Terry Kastens and Kevin Dhuyvetter of Kansas State University have been analyzing a database of financial records from farms in the state to determine what makes some producers more successful than others. The data consistently show that producers who do a better job of controlling production costs, especially tillage expenses, consistently make greater profits.

“As we tracked the information, we wanted to research what management factors are important and account for the different factors producers do that set them apart from their peers,” Dhuyvetter says.

“The one result of this study that has been debated the most is the marketing aspect,” he explains. “Our data shows that crop prices don’t have a consistent, long-term impact on a farm’s profitability, relative to other farms in the region.” That is, while prices do impact profit levels, they generally have not been important at explaining profitability differences between producers.

Put another way, while prices are important, Dhuyvetter says, external factors impacting price often affect the entire industry. “If you and I are farming side by side, and you can sell your corn for $1 more per bushel, then you will be more profitable,” he says. “However, our data indicate that over 10 years it is very difficult for some producers to consistently sell at higher prices than their neighbors.”

Look To Costs

Crop prices are in constant flux, but producers…

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