While crop prices remained unfavorable, more No-Till Farmer readers were profitable in 2016 than 2015 — but they had to stay under budget to make it happen.
In 2016, nearly 70% of the 643 farmers who participated in the 9th annual No-Till Operational Benchmark Study had a profitable season, slightly up from 2015’s 67%, but still 9 percentage points less than the 81% seen in 2014.
Those who experienced a net loss remained at 16%, while 14% had a flat income, down 3 percentage points from 17% in 2015.
The average net profit per farm was also up last year at $46,291 — a 7% increase over the $43,289 average in 2015. But average total expenses were also drastically less than they were the previous year. No-tillers spent an average $368,285 in 2016, just over $84,500 less than what they spent in 2015, and stayed under their estimated budget of $423,757 by $55,472, or 13%.
Growing slightly higher yields on fewer expenses may have helped. No-till corn yields averaged 171 bushels per acre last year compared to 168 bushels 2 years ago, while no-till soybeans hit another average high of 57.5 — a 4.5-bushel increase over 2015.
No-Till Farmer editor Frank Lessiter says this indicates no-tillers are better able to handle poor economic times.
“With the ability to raise higher yields and reduce expenses, no-tillers are in a much better position than other growers when it comes to dealing with continued low grain prices this year,” he says.