No-Till: A Win-Win for Soil Conservation?

No-till is a soil conservation practice that has been widely adopted by Midwestern farmers. Many have described it as a “win-win” for soil conservation because it offers benefits that are both environmental (minimized soil disturbance and erosion) and economic (lowered operating costs). However, critics and adopters alike acknowledge that no-till comes with trade-offs, ranging from increased reliance on herbicides to later starts in spring planting. While the benefits and trade-offs of no-till are still being debated, this latest research article shows how the appeal of no-till is that it advances soil conservation without questioning industrial farming’s aspiration for ever-increasing efficiency and profitablility.

No-till corn field in Montgomery County, Indiana

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