Illinois Farmers Tilled More Acres this Year

Farmers in Illinois might be tilling more land, but their interest in cover crops shows a willingness to adapt. Every other year the Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDA), with help from 97 Illinois Soil and Water Conservation Districts and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, completes the Soil Erosion and Cropland Tillage Transect Survey to understand farmer practices and preferences.

The survey is performed after crops are emerged in the spring. Illinois farmers increased tillage for a number of reasons, according to IDA. Tillage can help with weed control, allow for earlier planting and account for weather challenges.

Despite reportedly increased tilled acres, IDA is optimistic about farmers’ dedication to smart environmental practices because of a growing interest and adoption of cover crops in the state.

“Cover crops are becoming increasingly attractive to farmers as a way to control resistant weeds in corn and soybean fields,” says Raymond Poe, director of IDA. “They have the added benefit of reducing soil erosion and recycling nutrients in the soil that may otherwise be lost. Cover crops used in combination with other weed control methods can overcome some of the issues associated with herbicide-resistant weeds farmers encounter.”

Conventional tillage in corn rose 3.2%, no till corn increased .9%, reduced till corn increased 1.4% and no till soybeans dove 1.4% since 2015. See the charts below for a more detailed breakout of IDA’s findings.

TILLAGE SYSTEMS – CORN

(Percentage of fields surveyed with each system)

 






Tillage Practice

2017

2015

2013

2011

No-till

14.9%

14.0%

10.8%

10.8%

Mulch-till

14.1%

19.6%

16.2%

18.9%

Reduced-till

23.5%

22.1%

23.9%

24.8%

Conventional

47.5%

44.3%

49.1%

45.5%

 

 

 

TILLAGE SYSTEMS – SOYBEANS

(Percentage of fields surveyed with each system)

 

Tillage Practice

2017

2015

2013

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