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Conservation tillage is defined as any tillage system leaving 30 percent or more crop residue cover on the soil surface after planting. No-till is without question the most effective conservation practice for reducing soil erosion and improving soil and water quality. The crop residue cover and infiltration rates associated with no-till maximize the volume reduction of agricultural runoff and contaminants associated with sediment loss, when compared to other conservation tillage systems.
The 30 percent soil cover that is achieved by conservation tillage is significant to reducing soil erosion by 50 percent or more compared to bare soil. Soil erosion and runoff are considered by volume the greatest contaminants of surface water in most Indiana watersheds. Filter strips, buffers and other conservation practices or structures alone cannot adequately protect soil from soil erosion. Nor can they reduce agriculture runoff and maximize their efficiency for improving water quality without the complement of conservation tillage.
More than one-half of Indiana’s landscape is used to grow annual crops. The use of conservation tillage on this cropland is vital to maintaining the long-term productivity of the soil, as well as improving surface water quality. Farmers benefit from conservation tillage through reduced production costs and therefore have the potential for increased profit margins. Both farm and non-farm residents benefit from conservation tillage through cleaner surface water for drinking, recreation and other uses. Wildlife also benefit from the reduced runoff, cleaner water and the habitat provided through crop residue, food and cover, particularly in no-till fields.
Since 1990, the overwhelming adoption of conservation tillage has resulted in the accomplishment of 75 percent of the state losing soil at or below "T" (the tolerable level of soil loss). For most Indiana soils, "T" is three to five tons per year and is an approximate rate that new soil can be formed. This rate of soil loss may still present off-site water quality concerns since even 2-3 tons of sediment can contain a significant load of nutrients, pesticides and/or pathogens. While soil conservation has come a long way in Indiana, there continues to be more than 3 million acres losing soil at a rate faster than "T", as well as many additional fields with special resource concerns in need of conservation tillage and other erosion control practices.
To learn more about conservation tillage and how you can incorporate it into your operation visit the Conservation Cropping Systems Initiative website.
Definitions of Conservation Tillage Practices
Tillage System Definitions
2009 and 2011 Conservation Tillage Summary Reports
2009 and 2011 No-till Summary Report
2009 and 2011 Mulch-till Summary Report
2009 and 2011 Reduced-till Summary Report
2009 and 2011 Conventional-till Summary Report
2011 Conservation Tillage Data - County Rankings
2011 Corn - Ranked by Percentage of No-till
2011 Soybean - Ranked by Percentage of No-till
2011 Corn - Ranked by Acreage of No-till
2011 Soybean - Ranked by Acreage of No-till
State Map: 2011 No-till Corn Percentages
State Map: 2011 No-till Soybean Percentages
2009 Conservation Tillage Data - County Rankings
2009 Corn - Ranked by Percentage of No-till
2009 Soybean - Ranked by Percentage of No-till
2009 Corn - Ranked by Acreage of No-till
2009 Soybean - Ranked by Acreage of No-till
State Map: 2009 No-till Corn Percentages
State Map: 2009 No-till Soybean Percentages
2007 Conservation Tillage Data - County Rankings
2007 Corn - Ranked by Percentage of No-till
2007 Soybean - Ranked by Percentage of No-till
2007 Corn - Ranked by Acreage of No-till
2007 Soybean - Ranked by Acreage of No-till
2004 Conservation Tillage Data - County Rankings
2004 Corn - Ranked by Percentage of No-till
2004 Soybean - Ranked by Percentage of No-till
2004 Corn - Ranked by Acreage of No-till
2004 Soybean - Ranked by Acreage of No-till
Trends in Conservation: 1990 -2011
2011 Conservation Tillage Data Graphs
A total of 91 counties participated in the 2011 Conservation Tillage Survey. To view the percentage of no-till corn and soybean by county, click below.
Marion - No Data