What’s Ahead for No-Till?

A few weeks ago, I asked Dan Towery for his best guess as to what the no-till acreage might be as we approach the end of this decade.

After talking with others involved in the no-till movement, the longtime no-till consultant and owner of Ag Conservation Solutions in Lafayette, Ind., projected there will be 106.7 million acres of no-till in 2019, which represents a modest increase.

But what I found most interesting were the assumptions Towery made when estimating the short-term future of no-till acres:

1 Commodity prices will continue to remain low for the next several years. While Towery is not sure of the impact this will have on no-till growth, 2017 is the third straight year for some growers being in the red and having limited investment dollars. 

2 No-till is still not widely accepted by many landowners. While there’s still a need to sell the benefits of no-till, some growers don’t want the word to get out that no-till is delivering better than average returns, which could lead to higher cash rents for land.

3 While there’s considerable interest and funds being spent on improving soil health across the country, most of the effort is concentrated on getting no-tillers to add cover crops.

4 Roundup-resistant weed pressure continues to increase. This may lead to a possible decrease in the number of no-tilled acres, especially in the South and maybe even in the Midwest.

5 Growers in the Great Plains will increase their no-till acres, add more cover…

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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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