Will An Investment In A Precision No-Till Drill Pay?

It depends on how many acres you no-till, the age of existing equipment and the row widths you want.

In Virginia, many no-tillers bought new planters and drills back in 1996 when both yields and returns for crops were good. Many of these 6-year-old machines now need to be replaced.

As a result, J.D. Hutcheson says many farmers are now considering the purchase of a new no-till drill, a no-till planter or both pieces of seeding equipment.

“No-till corn is the big concern here among our farmers,” says the extension farm business management specialist in King William, Va. “The big question is what should a no-tiller do who needs to replace equipment. The idea of using newer precision seeding equipment is going to take over in the future, but some of our farmers may stick with some of the other equipment options for awhile longer.

“The big question with the no-till precision seeding drills is how many acres a farmer will be able to get through the units before they will need to be replaced.”

To make an informed purchasing decision, Hutcheson says no-tillers need a detailed economic analysis that includes equipment costs, yields and variable costs of production.

The figures shown below represent an in-depth economic analysis that Hutcheson did while comparing four cropping system options.

He bases his cost comparison on several assumptions outlined in the accompanying chart, plus the cost of equipment that is necessary to raise 2,000 acres of a corn, wheat and double-crop soybean rotation.

He says the first equipment option doesn’t consider the time and equipment savings from continuous no-till. In addition, variable…

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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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