8th Annual Benchmark Study: No-Tillers Make Cuts to Turn a Profit in 2015

Reducing inputs while maintaining high yields helped keep the majority of No-Till Farmer readers in the black despite soft commodity prices.

Despite another year of high yields, slumping grain prices made it harder for no-tillers to be profitable in 2015.

The percent of No-Till Farmer readers indicating they had a profitable year in 2015 was 67%, compared to 81% for 2014.

At the same time, the percent of no-tillers who saw a loss increased by 5 points to 16%, and those who had a flat bottom line more than doubled to 17% in 2015 from 2014.

The weakened ag economy was reflected in the net income with an average net profit per farm at $43,289 — down 40.7% ($29,722) from the $73,011 realized in 2014.

These numbers come despite solid yields. No-tilled corn averaged 168 bushels per acre, just 1 bushel shy of the record set in 2014, and no-tilled soybeans hit a new average high of 53 bushels per acre average. Those strip-tilling saw even better yields.

Despite the gloomy forecast, no-tillers need to remember they’re at an advantage in this tough economy, says Frank Lessiter, editor of No-Till Farmer.


“Finding ways to profitably grow a number of crops with lower grain prices is going to be a tough fight in 2016,” Lessiter says. “But no-tillers should take comfort in the fact they’re ahead of the game compared to neighbors who are still doing extensive tillage, and they should see better profit margins with reduced inputs.”

The data reported in the 8th annual No-Till Operational Benchmark Survey is the result of 385 No-Till Farmer readers taking the time to…

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Laura allen

Laura Barrera

Laura Barrera is the former managing editor of No-Till Farmer and Conservation Tillage Guide magazines. Prior to joining No-Till Farmer, she served as an assistant editor for a greenhouse publication. Barrera holds a B.A. in magazine journalism from Ball State University.

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