More Work Still Needs to be Done on Selling Landowners on the Many Benefits to be Gained by Having Their Ground Cover Cropped, No-Tilled or Strip-Tilled

Would landowners in your area rent ground to a no-tiller or strip-tiller for fewer dollars than to farmers using other conservation systems or even conventional tillage?

Among 230 farmers answering a recent email survey, 85% believe landowners wouldn’t budge on lowering land rents. Yet 9% of these growers believe conservation-conscious landowners might trim rental costs by $11 or more per acre if their fields were no-tilled or strip-tilled.

Among growers who answered our survey, 90% are no-tilling and 27% are strip-tilling. 

Data from our 9th annual No-Till Operational Benchmark Survey conducted earlier this year shows the average No-Till Farmer readers is cropping 1,153 acres this year. This includes an average of 43% owned ground, 40% cash rented land and 17% of the ground worked on shares. Total land rents last year averaged $59,026 per farm, a 23% decrease from $76,615 in 2015.

Growers were asked in our recent survey whether tillage practices enter into land rental conversations or agreements. Some 32% of growers indicated no-till or strip-till is a major factor when it comes to land rental. Another 25% indicated tillage systems don’t matter, 19% say the topic never comes up and 24% weren’t sure of its importance.

A number of growers maintain many landowners are still more interested in earning extra dollars than saving the soil. They indicate they sometimes deal with elderly landowners who think no-till looks trashy, is a lazy way to farm and often refuse to rent land to no-tillers.

Growers were also asked to gauge…

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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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