No-Till Savings No Longer ‘Chicken Feed’

Due to a tremendous increase in the price of diesel fuel, actual fuel-cost savings for no-tilling have shot up 606% in the past 15 years.

Treat the savings in fuel consumption per acre by switching to less tillage alone and you’ve definitely got a substantial savings.

After all, you can save 4.21 gallons of diesel fuel per acre by making the switch from conventional tillage to no-tillage. And with 400 acres of corn, that switch represents an annual savings of 1,684 gallons of fuel, based on Michigan State University figures.

By moving from conventional tillage to minimum tillage, a farmer could save 2.04 gallons of diesel fuel per acre … or 816 gallons with 400 acres of corn.

Bigger Payoff

These kinds of savings with reduced tillage aren’t new — farmers have known about them for years.

But what’s new are the two charts shown here that spell out exactly how the trend to less tillage is really paying off as diesel fuel prices keep rising each year.

You can see how average annual diesel fuel prices paid by U.S. farmers have gone from 16.5 cents per gallon in 1965 to the $1-per-gallon figure projected for 1980, by looking at the area between our two charts.

The annual fuel savings made possible by no-tilling 400 acres of corn have gone from $278 in 1965 to an astounding $1,684 in 1980.

Six-Fold Return

 By comparison, the savings by switching 400 acres of corn from conventional tillage to minimum tillage has increased from $101.60 in 1965 to $616 this year.

On a per-acre basis, you could have saved 69.5 cents by switching your corn crop to no-tillage…

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