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Rebuilding soil health year after year

Tilling the soil is actually a relatively new practice in the long history of cultivating crops, but no-till, reduced-till and vertical tillage systems are making a comeback. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Census data estimates that approximately 70 percent of U.S. soybean acres use some form of conservation tillage.


Having weed control and fertilizer programs in place are critical for farmers using conservation tillage. This includes clearing fields of weeds ahead of planting by carefully applying herbicides to kill weeds that may be emerging.


Leaving stubble in the field after harvest to breakdown and become part of the soil is an important conservation tillage practice.

Conservation tillage impacts fields, farms and more

Conservation tillage practices include no-till and reduced-till systems. By not disturbing the soil, farmers allow organic material to decompose into the soil.

Soybean plants growing through no till soil


No-till farming leaves organic material on the surface of a field after harvest with seeds planted directly into soil with that organic matter.

Reduced till

Reduced-till farming uses shallow, less intense tilling to prepare fields for planting to reduce soil disruption.

Vertical tillage

Vertical tillage mixes and breaks up soil without disturbing the top layer of soil and residue.

Less disruption, more benefits

By disturbing the soil as little as possible, farmers, crops and the environment all benefit.

Improving soil health

Conservation tillage systems increase the organic matter in the soil, improving soil composition. Soil with high organic matter also retains more water, which is important during dry years.

Reducing input costs

Healthier soil doesn’t need as much fertilizer because growing plants can access nutrients directly from the soil. Because of this and less time with equipment in the field to work the soil, farmers save time and money.

Protecting the environment

No-till, reduced-till and vertical tillage fields also have less soil erosion and soil run-off. Since farmers aren’t in the fields with equipment as much there are fewer emissions and less soil compaction. When planted in compacted soil, plant roots have a harder time accessing water and nutrients.