Ag Census: Cover Crops on the Rise in Oklahoma

This photo, taken near Mountain View, Oklahoma last summer, shows a field with no-till and cover crops on the left and a conventional tillage system on the right. (Photo credit: Oklahoma Conservation Commission)

via the Oklahoma Conservation Commission:

The 2017 U.S. Census of Agriculture – recently released by the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) – showed that on a national scale, Oklahoma is 7th in the nation for the largest decrease in cropland acreage using conventional tillage practices.

The Census of Agriculture also showed that in Oklahoma, compared to 2012, there was:
• a 24% increase in the number of farms using cover crops,
• a 51% increase in acres using cover crops,
• and a 29% decrease in intensive tillage practices.

These findings show that less and less of Oklahoma’s soil is whisked away by its powerful winds.

A good anchor will do that.

Anticipating the release of the Ag Census information was reminiscent of report card day back in school. Oklahoma farmers and ranchers, in cooperation with the Conservation Partnership, had put in the time and hard work to increase soil health practices. The Ag Census is the report card on whether all that work paid dividends.

“Reduced tillage and cover crops are two of the primary principles of soil health systems,”said NRCS State Conservationist Gary O’Neill. “These data trends show that Oklahoma farmers and ranchers are recognizing the benefits from implementing soil health systems on their lands.”

Most report cards leave a little room to build on. While statistics improved in cropland with reduced till practices and in cropland with intensive till practices, there was a decrease in cropland with no-till practices.

The Census of Agriculture is a complete count of U.S. farms and ranches and the people who operate them. Even small plots of land – whether rural or urban – growing fruit, vegetables or some food animals – count, if at least $1,000 worth of such products were raised and sold, or normally would have been sold, during the Census year. The Census of Agriculture, taken only once every five years, looks at land use and ownership, operator characteristics, production practices, income and expenditures.

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