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Corn+Soybean Digest

No-Till Cost vs. Reduced- or Conventional-Tillage Cost

The primary costs to examine when comparing no-till farms to farms with reduced or conventional tillage are labor costs, fuel costs, and herbicide. We would expect the labor and fuel costs to decline as tillage is reduced while the herbicide cost is typically expected to increase. Other cost items should be similar.

Note that the no-till farms are on average larger and practice more double cropping (any farm with a crop intensity index above 1, double crops). Larger farms are more likely to adopt no-till systems for two primary reasons. First, larger farms are looking for ways to improve labor efficiency. Second, larger farms can spread out the cost of new equipment that may be needed over more acres.

The seed costs are higher for the no-till farms in tables 1 and 2 due to the fact that the no-till farms are producing more corn and soybeans, and less wheat. 

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