An Economic Comparison of Reduced Tillage and No-Till Crop Production in Western Kansas With and Without Opportunity Cropping
Ray Smith, Sharon Springs, Kans., defended his thesis, “An Economic Comparison of Reduced Tillage and No-Till Crop Production in Western Kansas With and Without Opportunity Cropping” on Tuesday, August 21, 2007. Smith is the Owner of Smith Gateway Farms in Sharon Springs, Kans. He graduated from Kansas State University with a Master’s in Agribusiness (MAB) in December.
In recent years reduced tillage has become a popular farming method increasing production and conserving soils. As a dry-land farmer using no irrigation in Western Kansas, Smith wanted to explore the economic profitability of converting to a no-till opportunity cropping operation. No-till farming uses alternative methods such as sanitation, competition, and rotations to control weeds instead of tillage.
“It is possible to have greater yields, increased water retention in the soil and less erosion with no-till, but risk is not decreased with no-till. Although no-till opportunity cropping can be more profitable, the risks and expenses are actually greater,” Smith said.
During the 10-year study, Smith used different crop rotations to determine the per acre expenses, net revenue and the risks of high cropping intensity no-till verus reduced tillage with and without opportunity cropping. The analysis revealed that higher intensity no-till cropping can increase net revenues as long as intensity is decreased when soil moisture at planting is not adequate.
“It is interesting to me that the no-till opportunity cropping rotation benefited from the opportunity to not plant when soil moisture was not available. I am excited about Mr. Smith’s selection of a thesis topic that addressed important and relevant issues on his own farm,” said Dr. Bob Burton, Agricultural Economics professor and Smith’s thesis advisor.
The full thesis publication can be found online on Kansas State University’s Research Exchange at http://hdl.handle.net/2097/396.