August 13, 2003 | By: Laura Skillman

A recent survey of farmers attending a University of Kentucky wheat conference shows no-till production continues to gain interest.

In 2000, the Conservation Tillage Information Center reported that 27 percent of Kentucky’s wheat was planted using no-till that year. In an effort to see if no-tilled wheat had increased since then, Lloyd Murdock, an agronomist with the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service and member of the UK Wheat Science Group, asked producers attending a January meeting in Hopkinsville to complete a survey.

“What I’ve seen is that a lot of farmers are really showing interest and the numbers were pretty old,” Murdock said.

While this is not a proper scientific survey sampling, the results were interesting, Murdock said. It also indicates that interest may have substantially increased since 2000.

Of the 36 producers who responded, 61 percent no-till some of their wheat with 41 percent no-tilling 100 percent of their wheat. A total of 41 percent of the acreage produced by this group was no-tilled.

Murdock said he believes the actual percentage of no-till production is about 35 percent with the results from the meeting being somewhat skewed because of the farmers who attended that meeting. A broader survey is being planned by the UK Wheat Science Group.

 “I feel it is definitely in the 30s because I’ve had a lot of calls in the past year from farmers interested in going no-till,” he said. “So my question is if they expect a 3 to 4-bushel yield decrease in wheat from no-till production, why are they interested.

“The best that I can tell is that they fully expect a yield boost from their subsequent double-cropped soybeans and the following corn crop which will more than offset the income lost from the lower wheat yield. In fact, our research has shown that they can expect to double or triple the money.

“Plus the other thing is they don’t have to do all that tillage,” he said. “They have a certain number of people they can afford to pay and keep on the payroll full-time, and when it comes to that time of the year they are trying to harvest corn and soybeans as well as trying to plant wheat. So, eliminating the tillage is a big help to them.”

The survey also asked producers using tillage why they did not use no-till. By far the biggest response indicated the reason was due to decreased wheat yields.


Writer: Laura Skillman 270-365-7541 ext. 278
Source: Lloyd Murdock, 270-365-7541 ext. 207