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This article in AJ

  1. Vol. 103 No. 5, p. 1329-1338
    Received: Feb 21, 2011

    * Corresponding author(s): f.epplin@okstate.edu
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Economics of No-Till Versus Tilled Dryland Cotton, Grain Sorghum, and Wheat

  1. Brandon T. Varnera,
  2. Francis M. Epplin *a and
  3. Gary L. Stricklandb
  1. a Dep. of Agricultural Economics, Oklahoma State Univ., Stillwater, OK 74078
    b Jackson County Extension Educator, Oklahoma State Univ.-Cooperative Extension Service, Jackson County Extension Center, 2801 N. Main, Ste. A., Altus, OK 73521-1311


The majority of cropland in the Southwest Oklahoma Agricultural Statistics District is tilled and seeded to continuous monoculture winter wheat (Triticum aestivum L.). This study was conducted to determine the expected yield and expected net returns of wheat, cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.), and grain sorghum [Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench], under two production systems, no-till (NT) and tilled (TL), and to determine the most risk-efficient system. The effect of tillage was investigated over 6 yr at Altus, OK, on a Hollister silty clay loam (fine, smectitic, thermic Typic Haplusterts) soil. Wheat and cotton yields were not different between tillage systems. Sorghum NT yielded significantly more than TL sorghum (P ≤ 0.05). Wheat NT produced the greatest expected net return to land, labor, overhead, and management ($217 ha−1 yr−1). Tilled grain sorghum was the least profitable system (–$42 ha−1 yr−1). Wheat NT required additional expenditures for herbicides ($15 ha−1), less for machinery fuel, lube, and repairs ($22 ha−1), and less ($23 ha−1) for machinery fixed costs. Net returns were slightly greater ($18 ha−1) for NT wheat than for TL wheat. However, since NT wheat yields were more variable, TL wheat may be preferred by risk-averse producers. Estimated machinery labor savings from switching from TL to NT wheat were 0.588 h ha−1 or 609 h yr−1 for a 1036 ha farm. The decision to switch from TL to NT wheat depends on risk preferences, and on the potential to use saved labor productively elsewhere, or to farm more land.

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