The Benefits Of No-Till Farming

The winning entry from a South Carolina high school senior in the Phoenix Rotary Equipment Ltd. conservation tillage essay contest explains how no-till has helped the family boost yields while reducing costs and protecting the soil.

Though only 17 years of age, I consider myself an experienced farmer. I have worked alongside my father on our family’s farm since I was a small child, learning the skills of agriculture and developing a desire to make farming my own life’s work. Living on a farm that has belonged to and supported our family for generations, I am acutely aware of how drastically farming techniques have changed over the years.

Our family has always been open to new ideas and advances in agriculture; we believe that is why our farm has been able to operate continuously for 125 years. Never more than today, however, has the need for efficient crop production been so pressing.

With farm profit margins alarmingly slim, the innovation of conservation tillage has proved to be invaluable. Our primary benefits from switching to no-till have been an increase in crop yields and a noticeable improvement in the well-being of our farm due to the virtual elimination of erosion. A side benefit has been the excellent conditions created for wildlife.

At this point, our farm is producing cotton, corn, soybeans and a variety of grains, all of which are being no-tilled. Our transition from the traditional tillage methods has taken about 8 years. As we began experimenting with no-till, my maternal grandfather (a lifelong, full-time farmer) was extremely dubious and tried to discourage this new approach. He has become a believer, even stating that no-till would do as much for farming as had the progression in…

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