25 million acres less ploughed in US since 2012

The number of farms using intensive tillage practices in the US declined by 25 million acres from 2012 to 2017, according to the US Census of Agriculture.

US farmers are moving from intensive to reduced tillage and indeed from reduced tillage to no-tillage.

Intensive tillage

A total of 405,692 farms were using the plough in 2012. This reduced dramatically in five years – by 140,799ac to 264,893ac.

Size and number of farms using intensive tillage in 2017:
  • 1-9ac: 53,467 farms;
  • 10-49ac: 69,982 farms;
  • 50-99ac: 32,691 farms;
  • 100-199ac: 32,598 farms;
  • 200-499ac: 35,817 farms;
  • 500-999ac: 19,688 farms;
  • 1,000-1,999: 12,572 farms;
  • 2,000ac or more: 8,078 farms.

Reduced tillage (excluding no-till)

217,069 farms used reduced tillage practices in 2017. This converted to a total of 97.7 million acres. In 2012 this figure was significantly lower at 195,738 farms and 76.6 million acres.

Size and number of farms using reduced tillage in 2017:
  • 1-9ac: 24,025 farms;
  • 10-49ac: 40,868 farms;
  • 50-99ac: 26,698 farms;
  • 100-199ac: 31,176 farms;
  • 200-499ac: 40,882 farms;
  • 500-999ac: 26,013 farms;
  • 1,000-1,999: 17,260 farms;
  • 2,000ac or more: 10,147 farms.

No-till

A total of 279,370 farms implemented no-tillage practices in 2017. These farms accounted for 104.5 million acres.

The number of farms implementing no-tillage practices only increased by a small margin from 2012, when it stood at 278,290 farms. However, the number of acres increased by eight million acres. In 2012, 96.5 million acres were under no-till in the US.

Size and number of farms using no-till in 2017:
  • 1-9ac: 44,010 farms;
  • 10-49ac: 66,158 farms;
  • 50-99ac: 36,180 farms;
  • 100-199ac: 36,023 farms;
  • 200-499ac: 44,238 farms;
  • 500-999ac: 25,477 farms;
  • 1,000-1,999: 16,288 farms;
  • 2,000ac or more: 10,996 farms.

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