The last few years have demanded that many farmers innovate out of necessity. Whether it’s more aggressive technology adoption, more efficient nutrient applications or machinery modifications, farmers are adapting to push production potential on every acre.

All three of these practices are often cornerstones of strip-till farming operations. Having enjoyed the opportunity to cover the practice for No-Till Farmer and Strip-Till Farmer, I’ve heard many time about someone being the local ambassador for strip-till, promoting the benefits and either directly or indirectly, converting neighbors.

These are encouraging stories not only to hear, but to share because they reinforce the commitment strip-tillers make, along with the challenges they face and rewards they earn.

About a decade ago, our sister publication, No-Till Farmer, reported on the estimated total of strip-till acres in the U.S. based on survey data and state research conducted by local agronomists. The 2007 study revealed about 3.6 million acres of corn were actively strip-tilled that year, or roughly 19% of the nation’s no-till corn acreage at the time. Not surprising, and consistent with our more recent strip-till benchmark study data, the highest concentration of strip-till acres — 1.7 million — were in the Corn Belt.

Interestingly, a survey of 2008 National No-Tillage Conference attendees revealed that 36% expected strip-till acres to increase 1-10% by 2010, with another 16% forecasting growth of 11-20% and another 9% predicting growth of more than 20%.

It’s safe to say, strip-till acres have grown since those decade-old projections, but it’s difficult to predict the anticipated increase in strip-tilled acres since neither the government nor anyone else collects data indicating how many acres are farmed with this system today.

“Strip-till continues to hold tremendous potential as a progressive farming method — combining conservation practices with cutting-edge technology…”

However, talking recently with strip-till experts, I’ve asked them to try and quantify current acreage in a strip-till system and also offer a forecast for what we can expect in the future. The best estimate I’ve heard, based on field research and personal experience of those I’ve chatted with, is about 8 million acres strip-tilled in 2018 and a projection of 11.7 million by 2030.

Strip-till continues to hold tremendous potential as a progressive farming method — combining conservation practices with cutting-edge technology.

Making the initial commitment — whether financially or psychologically — is often a barrier into the practice. But we’re looking to recognize those individuals who have excelled in taking the risk, thinking outside of box and promoting the advantages.

To celebrates those successes, Strip-Till Farmer launched our Strip-Till Innovator Awards which recognizes growers in the U.S. and Canada who have made a significant contribution to the advancement of strip-till farming, regardless of the crop grown or brand of equipment, seed or crop protection products used.

I recently visited the farm of our first honoree who showcased his passion and proficiency and we celebrated his successes and challenges during a candid discussion on stage at this year’s National Strip-Tillage Conference, Aug. 1-2 in Peoria, Ill. 

Until next year, have a productive growing season and thank you for your dedication as strip-till ambassadors.