Theodore Roosevelt once said, “The nation that destroys its soil destroys itself.”
A couple of my ag journalist colleagues from Iowa just wrote about what they’ve been witnessing recently across that state’s landscape. They expressed dismay at the amount of tillage and soil erosion they’ve witnessed firsthand as a result of heavy rainfall events.
John Walter, community manager editor for Agriculture.com, commented about erosion in the Loess Hills that it is “totally out of control in the hills” and that he “gave up trying to photograph it. An iPhone camera simply can't do this sad drama justice.” How bad was it? Walter added that “it felt shameful yesterday to be associated with agriculture…”
Obviously, soil erosion is something the editors of No-Till Farmer have been concerned about for 40 years. And I must add that in my recent travels through the state of Illinois, I saw a very low percentage of fields in no-tillage, despite recent claims by ag leaders in that state that Illinois has the most no-till acres of any state in the U.S.
In fact, it seems from field activity the past two falls that tillage has regained momentum. The visual evidence seems to suggest that perhaps no-till isn’t growing and may be taking a step backward. The demand for ethanol leading to increased corn-on-corn acres is likely one factor in the slow adoption of no-till, and now we hear of weed resistance, such as Palmer amaranth in the South, threatening no-till adoption.
We’d like to know what you think. What’s happening with the growth of no-till in your area? If no-till acreage isn’t growing, how come? What will it take for no-till acreage to grow? What have you witnessed in regards to erosion and how does it make you feel?
Sound off on the No-Till Farmer Facebook page.