Franks Comments: No-Tillers Ahead of the Pack

A FEW MONTHS ago, Gary Schnitkey urged growers to find ways to trim $100 per acre from the costs of growing corn in 2016. The University of Illinois ag economist’s reasoning is that Midwestern growers need to reduce cropping costs to offset lower corn prices this year.

The good news is that no-tillers are already about two-thirds of the way toward meeting the cost reduction simply by eliminating extensive tillage.

Looking ahead to 2016, Schnitkey based his analysis on a 2016 farmland budget for ground that would produce 200 bushels of corn with a cash rent of $290 per acre. Gross revenue was based on $750 of crop revenue ($3.75 per bushel corn), plus $50 of Agricultural Risk Coverage payments for a total of $800 per acre.

Total costs were $872 per acre, resulting in a net loss of $72 per acre. So if this grower found ways to slash crop production costs by $100, it would result in a $28-per-acre net income.

No-Tillers Doing Better

Schnitkey’s plea for trimming $100 of costs got me thinking about what this means to no-tillers. The answer: You’re well ahead of most other growers.

My reasoning is based on looking at 71 budgets from University of Nebraska for 2016 scenarios with 15 crops. The data reveals significant savings between conventional tillage and no-tillage.

What’s also interesting is the fact that the Nebraska economists projected 15-bushel higher yields for dryland no-till corn when compared with conventional tillage. Before we take a closer look at…

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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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