Needed: New Ways To Expand No-TIll Acres!

Here's what veterans say about the advantages of no-tilling, concerns keeping other farmers from trying it and their thoughts on expanding no-till acres.

“I don't get it,” a leading farm magazine editor said to me at the conclusion of the seventh National No-Tillage Conference in St. Louis, Mo., in January of 1999.

“These veteran no-tillers have such a good thing going for them with all of the economic, family and environmental benefits to no-tilling. So why are they so gung-ho to share their no-tilling ideas with other farmers who prefer using conventional tillage or minimum tillage?

“If everyone starts no-tilling, these innovators will lose many of the no-till benefits. Why don’t they forget about convincing other farmers to no-till and simply cash in on their known-how?”

This editor made some very valid points and even some of the 50 veteran no-tillers who were asked to fill out a No-Till Farmer survey at last winter’s National No-Tillage Conference agree with him. Yet most feel it’s such a good system that they’d like to figure out ways to get even more farmers on the no-till bandwagon.

Many farmers, educators, suppliers, ag groups and government personnel are concerned that the acreage for no-till has leveled off over the past few years. As a result, they’d like to find new ways to expand the no-till acreage while overcoming concerns such as no-tilling corn into wet cold soils.

The chart at above right indicates how the U.S. no-till acreage has grown over the past 26 years.

In 1972, no-till made up 1.6 percent of the total cropped acreage. By 1998, this has grown to 16.3 percent of the…

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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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