Try as you may, it’s difficult to find any bright spot among the nationwide growth of no-tilled acres during 1998 to talk about.
Nationwide, we only saw a 1.4 percent increase in no-till acres from 1997 to 1998. As a result, it’s going to be difficult to reach the government goal of having 50 percent of our U.S. ground farmed with some form of conservation tillage by the year 2002.
Across the country, the no-till acreage stood at 46,019,351 acres in 1997 and increased to 47,807,513 acres in 1998. A year ago, the predictions of the No-Till Farmer editors for 1998 called for 47,869,680 acres, so our call was within 0.2 percent of the actual no-tilled acreage. (See chart below).
In 1998, 109,200,799 acres were farmed with conservation tillage (no-till, ridge till and mulch-till where more than 30 percent residue is left on the soil surface) compared to 109,841,433 acres in 1997. Conservation tillage made up 37.2 percent of all acres in 1998.
While 1998 corn acres across the country increased to 81.7 million acres from 78.3 million acres in 1997, the use of conservation tillage on corn ground only increased by 100,000 acres.
In fact, no-till corn actually dropped by 500,000 acres during the year. In Iowa, the biggest corn production state, no-tilled corn acres dropped to 12 percent of the total from 18 percent a year earlier.
But there were also a few bright spots around the…