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Why Farmers Utilize Suboptimal Methods Essay

2935 words - 12 pages

Over the past thirty years, a new technique for planting has started to be slowly adopted by many farming operations throughout the United States and the world. This method, which reduces greenhouse gas emissions, soil erosion, and farm expenditures, is no-till agriculture. No-till agriculture is an alternative to conventional tillage practices which have dominated the landscape of agriculture for many centuries. There are multiple issues that hinder the rate at which no-till agriculture is being adopted, but they are far outweighed by the advantages provided by no-till farming. This paper will seek to provide evidence and logic that will prove that no-till farming is vastly superior to conventional techniques, and as the next natural step in the advancement of agriculture no-till farming will serve as a way to improve farms across the world in terms of efficiency and cost effectiveness. It will also provide evidence that our current industry must change in order to provide incentives for farmers to work to conserve our resources and look towards the future.
Conventional agriculture refers to the process by which farmers break up the soil using farm equipment in order to speed up the decomposition of organic matter in the soil and prepare the soil for the planting of seeds. This process is referred to as tillage, and is accomplished using certain farm implements which have been developed and specialized specifically for this task. No-till practices effectively eliminate the entire tillage process, negating the need for the equipment, gas, labor, and maintenance costs that are associated with soil tillage. The elimination of this step in the farming process can decrease farm costs a great deal, and allow many farmers more free time for other tasks. This is not the whole story however, as in order to adopt no-till farming, farmers often are required to spend money to update, upgrade, or completely replace equipment in order to effectively implement the techniques. These startup costs and the potential for temporary reduced yields serve as the main disadvantages to no-till farming. These two issues have resulted in wide a wide disparity between large farms who are better suited to absorb these high startup costs, and small farmers who are not (Djido, Vitale, and Epplin 10).
The main two advantages of no-till agriculture are the reduced operating costs for farmers and the improvement in soil quality and yields. The most basic reason that no-till farming has the potential to truly improve farm production and income is because of the rapid advancements in genetically modified seeds. Seed have been and continue to be developed that grow efficiently without the need for fertilizer, herbicides, and conventional tillage practices (Adam 10). As new and more effective genetically modified seeds are developed, farmers will have no need for many of the staples of conventional agriculture, as the seeds will sprout and grow as healthy and as fast as...

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