According to data from the Agricultural Resources Management Survey, 21% of U.S. growers producing corn, cotton, soybean, and wheat used either no-till or strip-till farming every year. Additionally, 51% of growers used one of these practices at least once every four years. No-till farming is when farmers avoid tillage altogether while strip-till farming is where they just till a narrow strip into rows where the crop will be planted.
Despite the need to invest in new equipment to practice no or strip-till farming, farmers are gravitating towards both techniques to save money in the long run, increase soil health and improve their environmental footprint. In this blog, we will delve into the top three benefits of using no-till and strip-till farming.
1. Increasing Soil Health
According to the USDA, “field management using no-till farming for multiple years generally have a higher water holding capacity.” This is crucial in drought-prone areas where water shortages are tied to crop loss.
Additionally, adopting no or strip-till farming reduces erosion and soil compaction while increasing soil biological activity and soil organic matter. These are some of the most crucial factors for productive soils and productive soils could lead to increased yields.
2. Reducing Fuel Consumption
Continuous no-till requires less than two gallons of diesel per acre each year, whereas conventional till uses just over six gallons. The reduced fuel consumption means that farmers can save a lot of money when switching to no or strip-till.
An individual farmer breaks down the potential savings like this: “Let us assume an average off-road diesel fuel price of $2.05 per gallon. If a farmer farming 1,000 acres of crops switches from continuous conventional no-till he or she saves 4,160 gallons of diesel fuel – more than $8,500 worth – each year.”
3. Reducing Labor Costs
In addition to saving money on fuel, farmers who adopt no or strip-till farming practices can also reduce their labor costs. According to the USDA, “a farmer who plows 15 acres per hour will save roughly 67 hours of work with each eliminated pass over a 1,000 acre field by adopting no-till”. Depending on labor costs and equipment maintenance, that could save thousands of dollars each year.
Why No-Till Farming? Hear It From A Farmer.
Check out the six-minute video below as farmer Myron Sylling shares his farming journey, including 25+ years no-till and six years of using cover crops. Initially, Myron became interested in no-till farming to reduce his erosion issues. By using a combination of no-till and cover crops, he has been able to improve up to 90% of his formerly eroded soils.