Use New Farm Bill To Expand No-Till

No-tillers are already ahead of the curve in making the transition to lower-cost methods of farming.

As a family farm manager and longtime participant in farm policy development, Dick Wittman has mixed emotions about how the new farm bill will influence the behavior of no-tillers.

Here are some observations from the Lapwai, Idaho, diversified no-tiller who also provides private consulting services and seminars on a part-time basis for family farm businesses.

Conservation Title

Wittman says the increased funding for the Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) and other conservation programs should provide a financial incentive to encourage producers to accelerate the transition to direct seeding and no-tilling. These funds can be justified to offset risks in making the transition and help with the financial costs of making equipment changes.

He maintains the jury is still out on two critical issues:

  • Can the National Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) boost staff strength enough to administer this new pot of valuable conservation dollars?
  • Do local conservation district boards possess a philosophy that is supportive to direct seeding and no-till? He says many NRCS offices already struggle to hire staff who can even spell “farm,” let alone provide meaningful technical guidance on how to implement complex and highly technical conservation tillage strategies.

Wittman says some local conservation districts have board members who don’t share your enthusiasm for direct seeding and no-tilling.

“They either don’t think it will work, or they perceive the practice as a competitive threat,” he says. “They see neighbors doing it and don’t want to change. Or, they fear that providing incentives to those already no-tilling or wanting…

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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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