Nearly 20 Percent of Cropland Is No-Tilled

During the past 2 years, the national no-till acreage increased by an astounding 3.2 million acres.

With no-till used on 55 million acres, this highly popular reduced-tillage practice turned in a dramatic increase of nearly 3.2 million acres during the past 2 years.

For the first time in history, the no-till acreage surpassed the acres of mulch-till as the most popular form of conservation tillage, according to the Conservation Technology Information Center (CTIC) in West Lafayette, Ind. Their 2002 National Crop Residue Management Survey indicates that only 44.9 million acres were mulch-tilled this year. While the two tillage systems were used on nearly identical acreages in 2002, mulch-till was used in 1998 on 10 million more acres than were no-tilled.

Come A Long Way

For 2002, the CTIC survey indicates that no-till was used on 19.7 percent, mulch-till on 16 percent and ridge till on 1 percent of U.S. cropland. By comparison, only 3.3 million acres were no-tilled in 1972, the year that No-Till Farmer was launched.

Total conservation tillage for 2002, which includes no-till, ridge till and mulch-till systems that leave more than 30 percent residue on the soil surface, totalled 103,083,784 acres. This was a decrease from 108,148,394 acres in 2000. While the percentage of land farmed with all conservation tillage systems increased from 36.3 percent in 2000 to 36.7 percent in 2002, there were 16.1 million fewer total U.S. acres cropped in 2002 than 2 years earlier.

Still Room For Improvement

Yet there’s still plenty of room for going with less tillage as 114.3 million acres were still farmed in 2002 with systems…

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Lessiter frank

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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