Franks Comments: With Well Over Half of All Pennsylvania Crop Land Listed as Highly Erodible, the State’s Growers are Now No-Tilling an Incredible 66% of the Overall Crop Acreage

There were 3.3 million U.S. acres of no-till in 1972, and that figure has grown to nearly 100 million acres today.

Looking at the progress over the years, it’s difficult to beat the no-till increase in Pennsylvania. The 1972 no-till acreage in the state was estimated at 200,000 acres, making up 14% of its total crop acreage.

Pennsylvania had 2.5 million acres of no-till in 2014, equal to 66% of the state’s crop acreage. Other conservation-tillage systems were used on 18% of the acres and conventional tillage made up only 6%, down sharply from 64% in 1972.

So how was so much accomplished by Pennsylvania growers? There are a half-dozen major reasons.

1 Sjoerd Duiker says one of the keys has been the development of solid partnerships between the NRCS, local conservation districts, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, the state Department of Environmental Protection and Penn State University.

“They all worked together instead of butting heads as sometimes happens,” says the Penn State agronomist. “There was great support for no-till from the groups because of its soil conservation benefits. That was important as 60% of the state’s cropland is highly erodible and a large portion of the sediment was going into the Chesapeake Bay.”

Among the areas with the highest adoption rate, many were counties where there was a team effort between numerous agencies and a strong no-till leader in Extension, USDA or the local conservation district, says Joel Myers, the retired NRCS state agronomist. Once no-till drills became readily…

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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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