While some growers and educators figured the U.S. no-till acreage might have decreased during the past 2 years, it instead turned in an astounding increase of 7.1 million acres. Much of the increase occurred in the Great Plains states where no-till is helping growers make more productive use of limited water.
The recently-released 2004 National Crop Residue Management Survey confirms that 41 percent of all cropland is under some type of conservation tillage system. This means farmers leave the stubble or residue from the previous crop to cover at least one-third of the soil’s surface after planting. Coordinated by the Conservation Technology Information Center (CTIC) in partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, this is a biennial survey of tillage systems used in the U.S.
Back in 1990, only 16.9 million acres were no-tilled, making up only 6 percent of the total U.S. cropland. By 2004, no-till acres had increased to 62.4 million acres, making up 22.6 percent of all U.S. cropland.
Over the same 14-year period, both mulch-till and ridge-till acres dropped. In 1990, 53.3 million acres or 19 percent of the U.S. cropland was mulch-tilled. The mulch-tilled acreage reached a high of 57.9 million acres in 1998 and has since dropped to only 48 million acres. in 2004. This year, mulch-till was used on 17.4 percent of all U.S. cropped acres.
Ridge-tilled acres dropped from 3 million acres in 1990 to 2.2 million acres in 2004. It is…