No-till is now the most common form of conservation tillage in corn, according to the latest report of the Conservation Tillage Information Center (CTIC). It is a practice whose time has arrived, said Bill Chase, chairman of the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) Production and Stewardship Action Team.

"Yields (from no-till) have been steady with conventional till and are increasing with better hybrids and methods of weed control," Chase said. "Of course, there are many conservation benefits, including erosion control, moisture and fuel and time savings. No-till also helps build a good soil profile."

That observation is borne out by the results of NCGA's National Corn Yield Contest. More than one-third of the contest's 3,154 entries were in the no-till/strip-till categories. Three out of the five highest yields in the 2006 contest were from no-till/strip-till fields.

According to CTIC's 2006 Crop Residue Management Survey, no-till now accounts for approximately 20 percent of all corn acres in the survey area. No-till's popularity increases in the western Corn Belt. In Nebraska, CTIC found that 46 percent of corn acres surveyed are under no-till production.

New technology makes no-till and strip-till more realistic options for producers today, Chase noted. "If properly managed, no-till is both time and cost-efficient," he said.

CTIC has been tracking the growth in no-till and other forms of conservation tillage since 1982. In 2006 the CTIC survey was cut back in size and scope because of budget limitations. The survey still managed to study the states of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa and Nebraska in detail, however.

"CTIC is a great coalition partner on conservation, helping provide factual information to the general public," Chase commented.

Source: NCGA