The share of acreage for major cash crops—wheat, corn, soybeans, and cotton—that are planted using conservation tillage has increased over the past two decades in the United States.  According to ERS, farmers reported employing conservation tillage on the majority of acres of wheat at 68%, 76% of corn acres, and 74% of soybeans.  Conservation tillage is less common on cotton fields at 43% of acres.


Conservation tillage, which includes no-till and mulch till, reduces soil disturbance and preserves more crop residue relative to conventional tillage, in which a plow or other implement turns over most of the soil before planting.  Additionally, no-till production, a type of conservation tillage in which farmers plant directly into remaining crop residue without tilling, has increased substantially for wheat and corn over the past two decades.  Finally, mulch till has trended upward on each crop except for corn over the past two decades.


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