From 3.3 To 96.4 Million Acres

It’s interesting to look back at the dramatic increase we’ve seen in no-tilled acres since No-Till Farmer was launched in 1972. And data from the recently released 2012 U.S. Census of Agriculture has allowed our staff to take a close look at the tremendous increase in the number of no-tilled acres over the past 40 years.

Back in 1972, the No-Till Farmer editors estimated there were 3.3 million acres of no-till in the U.S. By 2012, the no-tilled acres had increased to 96.4 million acres. The No-Till-Age chart below shows the steady growth that we’ve seen since 1972.

Four Decades Of Data

From 1972 through 1988, our editors asked the state conservationists of the Soil Conservation Service (now the Natural Resources Conservation Service) for their best guesses as to what the no-till acreage was in each state.

From 1989 to 2004, the Conservation Technology Information Center (CTIC) conducted a survey with NRCS funding to obtain tillage practices data in all 3,092 counties in the U.S. After federal funding for this project was cut off, CTIC conducted surveys from 2007 to 2008 in a limited number of counties and projected the data.

For the first time in 2012, farmers were asked in the U.S. Ag Census to provide data on no-tilled acres. This data led to the 96.4 million acres of no-till for 2012.

In 1972, no-till made up less than 2% of the total tilled acreage, followed by minimum tillage with 13% of the acreage and conventional tillage at 85%.

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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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