Many farmers are no-tilling because it’s profitable for them and because they feel it’s the right thing to do. But have you ever watched your neighbors pound their fields with tillage equipment and, in a weak moment, think twice about your decision?
Don’t do it. In the last month, while listening to leaders in both the private sector and federal government, no-till continues to be talked about on a national and global scale as a way to ease environmental and food-production challenges. Here’s what I’ve seen:
• Early in June, BASF held its Agricultural Solutions Media Summit (check out our Tweets) and tackled the issue of sustainability in food systems. A new research tool unveiled by the company, AgBalance, showed the use of conservation tillage had increased by 13% in Iowa between 2000 and 2010, and that a variety of best-management practices and hybrid improvements boosted the overall sustainability of corn production in the state by 40% during that time.
• Just yesterday, the USDA announced another $8.4 million in funding for voluntary farming-related projects that will address water-quality issues in several states bordering the Mississippi River. No-till, precision technology and cover crops will be crucial in this effort.
“Cover crops are one of the most exciting things that we’re doing,” said NRCS chief Dave White. “When I was growing up, it was winter wheat or cereal rye that was discussed. But now we’re getting different mixes out there with many different species.”
Yes, most of you already know about cover crops and their benefits. But that’s my point: Progressive no-tillers are really the leaders in the growing discussion about how we'll feed a burgeoning world population with fewer natural resources available.
Get used to seeing yourself as a leader, even if your neighbors don’t.