Data from the 2017 Census of Agriculture shows that U.S. farmers are continuing to move away from intensive tillage while no-till, reduced tillage and cover crop practices continue to grow.

According to the Census, no-tilled acres in the U.S. topped 104 million acres in 2017, up 8% over the 2012 figure of 96 million. The number of farms reporting no-tilled practices on their acreage only grew 0.4% over 5 years, but acreage continues to increase. By contrast, in 1972 only 3 million acres of no-till was reported, and in 2000 it was 51 million.

The Census also reported 15.3 million acres of cover crops were seeded in 2017, for an increase of 49% over the 2012 total of 10.2 million acres. The on-farm average of cover crop acres increased from 77 acres in 2012 to 100 acres in 2017, or 30%. Cover crops were seeded on 153,402 farms in 2017, an increase of 20,278 farms, or 15%, over 2012’s total of 133,124 farms.

The Census of Ag also revealed:

• Acres under reduced tillage increased 27.5% in the period, from 76,639,804 acres in 2012 to 97,753,854 in 2017.

• Acres under intensive tillage in the U.S. fell a whopping 24.3%, with 105,707,971 acres reported in 2012 and 80,005,292 acres reported in 2017. And the total farms where intensive tillage was reported fell by 140,799, for decline of 34.7% during the Census period.

The wide-ranging Census of Agriculture, held every 5 years, produced a 820-page main report on numerous aspects of U.S. agriculture from 2017. More data on U.S. farming trends can be found by clicking here.