Corn Commentary

Conservation Critical for Corn

“Conventional tillage is no longer conventional,” says Kyle Nickel with the Conservation Technology Information Center. “It’s a thing of the past.”

That’s a quote in this week’s American Farm Bureau Federation editorial by Anne Keller, AFBF Director of Issues Management. She writes:

In fact, a county-by-county crop residue management survey by the CTIC shows only about 33 percent of all cropland acres in the U.S. are still planted using traditional methods such as disking and moldboard plowing.

This is important because of concerns about what increased corn plantings could mean for future soil quality. According to CTIC, newer methods of “conservation tillage” planting that keep the soil and its moisture and nutrients largely in place, rather than turning over each spring, may make corn-corn rotations conceivable.

Meanwhile, the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) has just completed an analysis of data from the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and other sources that indicates U.S. corn growers reduced soil erosion by approximately 44 percent over a 20-year period through a combination of conservation tillage and other soil-saving practices.

“The study shows we can sustain production without losing soil and nutrients,” said Bill Chase, chairman of NCGA’s Production and Stewardship Action Team.