No-till planting has increased in popularity

No-till agricultural practices are becoming more and more popular as farmers continue learning to balance the care of their land in a sustainable manner, while still making a living and a profit from their operation.

No-till has vast environmental and economic benefits and can be an excellent management choice for the producer to adopt on their farm. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, for farmers across the country, it comes as no surprise to hear that conservation tillage practices – particularly continuous no-till – can save time and money compared to conventional tillage. The potential benefits of no-till are well-documented, from improving soil health to reducing annual fuel and labor investments.

Even with the documented benefits of continuous no-till practices, less than 30 percent of agricultural cropland is managed with said practices, according to the USDA. Many producers are concerned about the money spent on completely switching over to a new practice versus the money saved with this method. While the cost and management change can be intimidating, the fuel savings alone can make it worth it.

The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) conducted a study to compare the fuel usage between conventional tillage practices and no-till practices and found that on average, farmers practicing continuous conventional till use just over six gallons of diesel fuel per acre each year.

“Continuous no-till requires less than two gallons per acre. Across the country, that difference leads to nearly 282 million gallons of diesel fuel saved annually by farmers who practice continuous no-till instead of continuous conventional till.” It is not just less fuel usage that can be a benefit from moving to no-till practices, but better forage growth as well. “No-till allows seeds better contact with soil than broadcasting,” Jill Scheidt, agronomy field specialist with the University of Missouri Extension, said.

For producers who are new to no-till practices, Scheidt offered some tips for success.

“If you are seeding a new stand of cool season grass, like fescue, best results are obtained through seeding in the fall,” she said. “Fall seedings – August and September – usually have far less weed competition and more favorable moisture conditions than late spring seedings. If you chose to seed in the spring, know the stand will not be as good and increase seeding rate slightly. Check drill depth routinely to make sure seeds are not planted to deep and see the University of Missouri Extension guide “Seeding Rates, Dates and Depths for Common Missouri Forages” for specific forage recommendations. If you plan to rent a drill from a local soil and water conservation district, call well in advance as the list gets long quick.”

Klaire HowertonFarm Helpbenefits,no-till plantingNo-till planting has increased in popularity No-till agricultural practices are becoming more and more popular as farmers continue learning to balance the care of their land in a sustainable manner, while still making a living and a profit from their operation. No-till has vast environmental and economic benefits and can...The Ozarks' most read farm newspaper, reaching more than 58,000 readers in Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma