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If You and a Neighbor Each Farm 1,365 Acres — You’re No-Tilling and He’s Using Conventional Tillage— His Yearly Fuel Bill will be $32,775 Higher than Yours

No-tillers have known for years that there are dozens of reasons for moving away from intensive tillage. With today’s sky-rocketing fuel prices, one of the most obvious is the tremendous fuel cost savings with no-till

It’s no surprise to hear that practically everyone around the world seems to be taking a hit from higher fuel prices. Yet few can find more dramatic savings than farmers shifting more acres to no-till.

$24 per Acre Fuel Savings

Relying on fuel consumption data from a number of years ago that was published in No-Till Farmer, our editors recently compared conventional tillage, minimum tillage and no-tillage systems. Besides tillage and planting, our comparison also included harvest and two trips with a sprayer.

In this analysis, conventional tillage required 8.09 gallons per acre of diesel fuel compared to 5.6 gallons for minimum tillage and only 3.93 gallons for no-till.

Based on a farm size of 1,365 acres (the average in No-Till Farmer’s 2022 No-Till Operational Benchmark Study), we calculated the total needs for diesel fuel for various tillage systems. 

It averaged 5,364 gallons for no-till, 7,644 gallons for minimum tillage and 11,043 gallons for growers still doing conventional tillage.

Based on the May 2022 average U.S. No. 2 diesel retail price of $5.57 per gallon, this adds up to yearly fuel costs of $28,735 for no-tillers, $42,577 for growers using minimum tillage and $61,510 for growers doing conventional tillage. The fuel savings between conventional tillage and no-tillage in a 1,365-acre operation is $32,775 in favor…

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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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