No-Tillers Becoming Masterful at Treading Deep Waters

A rebound in soybean yields and a major effort on cost restraints led to more no-tillers finding a favorable position in the black for 2018.

A No-Till Farmer Staff Report

No-tillers are proving to be quite adept at traversing deep waters. Having experienced 5 years of paltry commodity prices, the readers of No-Till Farmer may have turned in their best year financially since corn prices began to dive in the summer of 2014.

Some 72.2% of No-Till Farmer readers responding to the 11th annual No-Till Operational Benchmark Study said they finished 2018 in a profitable position. (See Table 1.) That was a 4-point improvement over 2017 and the highest number of no-tillers in the black since 2014, when 81% of readers said they were profitable.

On the flip side, just 11% of No-Till Farmer readers said they suffered a loss in 2018. That nearly matched 2014 levels of 10.9% and was the lowest number of farmers experiencing a loss since 2014. The highest percentage of no-tillers in the red was 16.3% in 2016.

No-tillers likely aren’t overly exuberant, but they do appear to be heading into town with a few more dollars in their pockets. As a whole, no-tillers averaged a profit of $58,622 per farm. That was nearly $7,000 more, or 13.4% above, 2017 levels of $51,713 in average profit per farm.


Average no-till corn yields of 181.3 bushels per acre exactly matched no-till corn production numbers for 2017. Based on the January USDA crop production report, the U.S. national average corn yield for 2018 is estimated to be 176.4 bushels per acre, just below the previous record corn yield of 176.6 bushels per…

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