Reduced spending resulted in improved profitability for no-till farmers in 2016, according to the 9th Annual (2017) No-Till Farmer No-Till Practices Survey. No-Till Farmer is a sister publication of Ag Equipment Intelligence.

Responses from 643 no-tillers dur­ing the last week of December and first 2 weeks of January indicate that, on average, they invested a total of $368,285, or $319.41 per acre in their cropping operations in 2016. This compares with an average of $452,912, or $395.21 per acre, in 2015, and $455,981, or $392.41 per acre, in 2014.

According to this year’s survey results, on average, U.S. no-till farm­ers reduced their spending by 18.7% between 2015 and 2016, and by 19.2% in 2016 vs. 2014.

This group of producers estimates they will spend a total of $361,253, or $313.32 per acre, on their 2017 cropping operations. If this holds true to form, expenses for this year’s crop will decline less than 2%.

Profit or Loss?

Of the total respon­dents, nearly 70% said they record­ed a profit on 2016 harvest, while 16.3% said they lost money last year, and nearly 14% said their net income for the year was flat vs. the previous year. This was slightly higher than the 67.2% of no-tillers who reported a profit for 2015, but well below the 81% who made money in 2014.

The farmers’ bottom lines improved somewhat in 2016. On average, they reported a per-farm net income in 2016 or $46,291. This was up slightly from the $43,289 in 2015, but way down from the $73,011 no-tillers reported for net income in 2014.


Purchasing Plans

Overall, the no-tillers who responded to the 2017 survey are planning to increase their equipment spending this year slightly vs. the previous year. Slightly over 10% of this group of farmers said they intend to buy a tractor in 2017.

This compares to 7.8% a year ago. About 6.5% of survey responses are planning the purchase of a planter and com­bine this year. A year ago, 6.2% said they intended to buy a planter and only 4.2% had plans to acquire a combine.

Next on the farmers’ to-buy list are drills, with 4.4% anticipating buying this type of equipment in the year ahead (vs. 3.4% last year), while 4.2% said they’re planning to purchase a self-propelled sprayer (vs. 2.6% last year). Overall, no-tillers’ equipment buying plans remain subdued during the year ahead.

Technology Use Growing

On the other hand, more survey respondents’ plan to use technology products in 2017 than did the 2 previous years.

Asked “Which technologies will you use in your cropping operation in 2017?” more than 57% said GPS/Tractor auto-steer. This compares with 49.6% in 2016 and 48.4% in 2015.

Nearly half (49.5%) of the no-tillers said they’ll utilize yield monitor data analysis during the next cropping year, up from 41% in 2016 and 2015. Field mapping will be used by 48.2% of no-tillers compared to 40.3% the year before and 39.9% in 2015. Overall, most precision farming tech­nologies will see increased usage in 2017.

— Ag Equipment Intelligence, February 2017

An in-depth summary of the survey results will be published in the spring 2017 edition of the Conservation Tillage Guide. Ag Equipment Intelligence will publish a special report containing all of the data collected this spring.