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New Specialty Crops Offer Bonus No-Till Income

Whether it’s soybeans, corn, sunflowers or canola, no-tillers can grow solutions to meet market demand for healthy and renewable oils, as well as more efficient ethanol production.

Generating more income on no-till acres is a powerful reason for no-tillers to raise specialty crops currently available.

“We’re all trying to keep profitability in farming,” says Kenton, Ohio, no-tiller Dave Lotz. “Raising specialty crops is one of the easiest and most reliable ways for me to add dollars per acre to my farm. The premium is more of a guarantee than snake-oil products that may or may not get me an extra bushel or two of yield.”

The Market Picture

Specialty crops are those bred or modified to meet a specific marketplace demand. Production of healthy, shelf-stable oils is the main driver in today’s market, with products catering to ethanol production a distant second.

Food companies began migrating away from soybean oil when the Food and Drug Administration mandated the inclusion of trans fats on food labels. Trans fats are created when oils, like soybean oils, are hydrogenated. Instead of hydrogenating soybean oils, the food industry started migrating to oils like canola and sunflower.

In 2011, more than 7 million soybean acres that traditionally would have been processed for food oil were put into biodiesel, which has the lowest-margin use, says Steve Joehl, Vistive Gold project manager for Monsanto Co.

“There are lower margins made by the crusher when soybeans go to biodiesel. That’s been a drag on the commodity price of soybeans,” Joehl says. “Industry sources estimate a $0.50-per-bushel loss in value as soybean oil moves away from the food market. Creating soybeans that produce healthier oils demanded…

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Martha-mintz-new

Martha Mintz

Since 2011, Martha has authored the highly popular “What I’ve Learned About No-Till” series that has appeared in every issue of No-Till Farmer since August of 2002.


Growing up on a cattle ranch in southeastern Montana, Martha is a talented ag writer and photographer who lives with her family in Billings, Montana.

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