No till farming practices have been in use for thousands of years, with primitive farmers using a stick to make a hole in the ground, putting seeds in the soil, and then covering the seeds. Farmers in Central and South America still use this technology to plant their crops.
After the Dust Bowl conditions of the 1930s, when severe drought conditions across much of America’s farmlands led to a widespread agricultural depression, interest in no till planting increased.
In no till farming, the soil is never plowed or turned over. Instead, seeds are placed into individual seed furrows, drastically reducing soil erosion. No till farming has many positive effects on soil.
On a commercial scale, no till farming, also known as zero tillage, did not reach the United States until the 1940s, when a broadleaf weed killer became available to farmers.
In the early 1960s, better herbicides became available, and no till seeding equipment was developed. In 1962, two brothers in Kentucky (Harry and Lawrence Young) were among the first farmers to use mechanized, no till farming techniques.
In the 1980s, the 1985 Farm Bill and federal government subsidies for soil conservation motivated more farmers to try no till farming.
Throughout the 1990s better, cheaper herbicides became available, and no till equipment continued to improve. By 1990, no till planting practices were being used on approximately 6% of the farmland in America. That number rose to 22% by 2004, and 35% by 2016.
What will the future bring? Presumably more acres being converted to permanent no tillage and higher crop yields as no till parts, equipment, and knowledge continue to improve!
In the meanwhile, for more comparisons of no till farming then and now, check out our page on no till farming facts.
For more information about no till parts and equipment, please call us at (800) 417-8020, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.