No-tillers hit new yield records across the board

No-tilled soybean yields climbed to new highs in 2016, while most U.S. regions saw better yields than in 2015.

This study is cited with permission of No-Till Farmer. See the full corn and soybean study here.

Last season no-tillers had some of the best crop performances in the history of No-Till Farmer magazine’s annual No-Till Operational Benchmark Study, hitting record soybean yield averages overall and beating 2015 yields in most regions.

Readers who participated in55 the ninth annual survey reported that no-tilled soybeans averaged 58 bushels per acre last year, 5 bushels higher than the record set in 2015.

Soybeans were a success
In addition to hitting a new yield record for no-till soybeans, soybean yields increased under all tillage systems and in all seven U.S. regions. Highest average yields in no-tilled soybeans were in the Western Corn Belt (WCB) with 62 bushels per acre, 7 bushels higher than in 2015. The Eastern Corn Belt (ECB) followed at 59 bushels per acre, a 4-bushel increase over 2015.

See Table 1 for 2016 yields per region broken down by tillage system and Table 2 for a nine-year history of soybean yields nationwide by tillage system.

Table 1. 2016 Average Per-Bushel Yields for Soybeans

(Based Upon Tillage System Used)

No-Till 58 59 62 57 51 51 54 52
Strip-Till 62 64 65 61 55
Vert-Till 59 58 61 59 56
Min-Till 57 60 61 57 51 55

Table 2. Comparison of Soybean Yields by Tillage System

(2008 – 2016)

2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008
No-Till 58 53 52 49 47 49 49 50 45
Vert-Till 59 55 52
Min-Till 57 54 53 48 48 49 49 47 46

Here are other key soybean findings from the 2016 no-till study:

  • Strip-tilled soybeans performed the best in 2016, yielding 62 bushels per acre on average — 9 bushels higher than the 53-bushel yield seen in 2015 and 2014.
  • Vertical-tilled soybeans saw a 4-bushel bump from 2015 for a 59-bushel average, while minimum-tilled soybeans picked up three bushels for a 57-bushel average.
  • The average yield for the top one-third of soybean growers fell a bit from 2015’s 70.6 bushels per acre to 67.1 in 2016. But this still gave them a 9-bushel advantage over the total survey average of 58 bushels per acre.
  • The average farm size of the top third soybean yielders is 1,082 acres, 71 acres smaller than the average farm size for the whole benchmark study.
  • Growers with the highest soybean yields in 2016 also recorded higher corn yields, averaging 196.6 bushels per acre
  • Roundup Ready® soybeans are the most popular variety among all no-tillers
  • The top-third in terms of yield used more inputs to protect their soybean crops compared with the average soybean grower. The higher-yielding growers were more likely to use fungicides, insecticides, nematicides, biological controls and seed treatments. However, they were less likely to apply an inoculant to their soybean seed in 2016
  • Looking toward the 2017 crop, higher-yielding growers report being less likely to apply fertilizer to their soybeans this year, compared with other growers

Share This Story

About the Author: Laura Barrera

Laura Barrera is the managing editor of No-Till Farmer and Conservation Tillage Guide magazines. This article originally appeared on and has been reposted with permission.