Economic Information Bulletin No. (EIB-197) 27 pp

September 2018

Tillage Intensity and Conservation Cropping in the United States

Reducing tillage and increasing soil cover (through crop rotations and cover crops) can enhance soil health. To gauge the intensity of tillage over time, this report estimates the number of years no-till or strip-till are used over a 4-year period. Conservation tillage was used on 70 percent of soybean (2012), 65 percent of corn (2016), and 67 percent of wheat (2017) acres.

Errata: On October 12, 2018, the report Tillage Intensity and Conservation Cropping in the United States was reposted to correct for coding errors that resulted in the miscalculation of some estimates for conservation cropping, cover crops, and other practices that affect crop residue. Specifically, Figure 3, Figure 4, Table 1a, and Table 1b have been replaced. Conforming changes have been made in the text on pages 6, 9, 10, 11, 12, and 18. The largest changes are an increase in cover crop acreage for corn (2016) and cotton (2015) and an increase in conservation cropping for wheat (2017). Acreages for tillage types in Tables 1a and 1b are lower because observations with less than 4 years of crop and tillage data were inadvertently included (but have now been excluded). All changes are restricted to figures, tables, and text that rely on ARMS cropping and tillage history data.

Keywords: Tillage, no-till, mulch-till, conservation tillage, conservation crop rotation, cover crop, double cropping

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