A growing number of U.S. farmers are adopting no-till cropland management practices, according to a newly released USDA report.
USDA Economic Research Service researchers compiled data from the Agricultural Resource Management Survey and the National Resources Inventory-Conservation Effects Assessment Project’s Cropland Survey and compiled “No-Till Farming is a Growing Practice.” The data in the report show that approximately 35.5 percent of U.S. cropland planted to eight major crops, or 88 million acres, had no tillage operations in 2009.
While it is true that most U.S. farmers prepare soil for planting, as well as weed and pest control through tillage the trend to non-tillage practices have been trending upward.
Tillage, of course, is of particular interest because practices affect soil carbon, water pollution, and farmers’ energy and pesticide use. That makes data on tillage practices valuable to better understand the practice’s role in reaching climate and other environmental goals. No-till would have less environmental impact.
In the end, the report and ongoing research efforts are to help policymakers and other interested parties better understand U.S. tillage practices and those practices’ potential contribution to climate-change efforts.