Profitability Picture Mixed, but Brighter for No-Tillers

Growers plan to stay frugal with fertilizer and equipment spending as they work to keep their finances in the black during the 2020 season.

In spite of record rainfall in some states, unplanted acreage and trade wars erupting between the U.S. and several countries, no-tillers still managed to improve their financial position a bit in 2019, according to results of the 12th annual No-Till Farmer Operational Benchmark Study.

Some 81% of no-tillers reported a profit in 2019, which was up from 72% in 2018 and the third increase reported over the last 4 years. It’s the highest percentage of no-tillers reporting a profit since 81% in 2014 (see Table 1).

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About 19% of respondents reported they took a loss in 2019, which is much higher than 11% in 2018. Some of the difference may be due to the survey eliminating “flat” as an answer for the revenue category for 2019. An average of 16% of growers have said profit/loss was “flat” since 2015.

For the average net profit per farm in 2019, growers reported $48,000, down from $59,000 logged in 2018, slightly lower than 2017 ($51,000) but a little higher than results in 2015 and 2016.

More than 600 growers — with average cropping acres of 1,082 — responded to No-Till Farmer’s exclusive survey on no-till practices. Some 77% were practicing no-till on their acres, 6% were using strip-till, 7% used vertical tillage and 6% used min-till. Only 4% of respondents reported using any conventional tillage last year.

Looking ahead to 2020, no-tillers projected average expenditures per farm of $410,000, a drop of $29,000 (or 6%) over 2019. They’re projecting to spend $378…

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