Stanford Study Finds Reduced Tillage Helps Soils and Yields

A Stanford University study published in Environmental Research Letters showed that Midwest farmers who reduced tillage increased corn and soybean yields while improving soil health and lowering production costs. The research team used machine learning and satellite datasets to develop satellite-based crop yield models. Researchers calculated that, across nine Midwest states between 2005 and 2016, corn yields improved an average of 3.3% and soybeans by 0.74% on fields managed with long-term conservation tillage practices. The researchers calculated that it takes 11 years for corn farmers to see full benefits of reduced tillage, and twice that long for soybean growers. However, reduced tillage lowered production costs from the start, due to reduced need for labor, fuel, and farming equipment.