“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…