No-till farming has long emerged as a viable solution to the dire environmental effects of widespread plowing. While most farmers can easily benefit from the perks of conservative tillage, this practice has its drawbacks, too. So, should you implement a no-till system on your farm? These no-till pros and cons might help you decide!
Pro: You save on labor and fuel costs.
It’s easy to see how no-till farming practices can help you save on fuel and labor costs. Cutting back on plowing directly translates to reduced fuel use on your tractor and lessened need for manpower, ultimately enabling you to redirect these resources elsewhere.
Con: You might have to purchase special equipment.
No-till farming has gained enough traction for many companies to manufacture special no-till equipment, such as this no-till air drill from John Deere. While the cost associated with acquiring such equipment will eventually be covered by the fuel and labor savings mentioned above, it’s still a sizable expense that requires capital or financing.
Pro: Potential for higher yields.
This, of course, just had to be in this list of no-till pros and cons. Since this technique helps keep your soil at a productive state for years and years, you’ll eventually enjoy higher yields than if you just let tillage deteriorate the quality of soil on your farm. Additionally, farmers struggling with low moisture levels will benefit from increased water retention brought by no-till, which also leads to higher crop yields.
Con: You might have to do some trial and error
No-till won’t give you higher crop yields in a snap. It takes a lot of patience and some trial and error to really make the most out of this farming method. That being said, you really have to be prepared. Make sure your mind is 100% set on no-till before pursuing the transition.
Pro: Farmers now have access to more resources
No-till isn’t as uncommon as it used to be, and farmers who are new to the concept have a lot more resources compared to the pioneers who mostly just winged it.
Con: You have to embrace continuous learning
Plowing and tillage have been around for thousands of years, so it’s understandable how tons of state-of-the-art equipment, research, and techniques have been developed and carried out in the name of more efficient and effective tillage.
In comparison, no-till farming is relatively-new. As such, you should expect new developments to emerge every now and then, and you have to be prepared to learn, unlearn, and re-learn techniques and concepts.
Pro: You lessen herbicide runoff.
No-till farming is associated with reduced water runoff, which means herbicides and other chemicals are less likely to contaminate nearby water streams.
Con: You’ll have to use more herbicides.
On the flip side, tillage is known to act as a natural herbicide because the act of plowing kills weeds. No-till, then, means you’ll have to apply more herbicide onto your fields. This is perhaps the biggest obstacle that prevents organic farmers from pursuing no-till practices. So if you’re planning to go into organic farming in the future, take note.
What do you think about no-till farming? Is it something you might be interested to try in the future? We hope these no-till pros and cons helped you make up your mind.