Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Agricultural Economics

Major Professor

James A. Larson

Committee Members

Roland K. Roberts, Burton C. English, Daniel de la Torre Ugarte


Farmers are always looking for ways to increase yields and profits and no-tillage may be a way to achieve this goal. However, a comprehensive study of the performance of no-tillage yields relative to conventional tillage yields and their net returns is lacking. This study evaluated the potential factors that influence differences in conventional tillage and no-tillage yields and net returns as explained by such factors as time, crop, precipitation, soil texture and geographic region. Data were collected from 442 paired tillage experiments growing corn, soybeans, cotton, oats, wheat and sorghum published in three refereed journals. Data were evaluated using a mixed model and logit model respectively, to evaluate differences in mean yields and downside risk with no-tillage compared to tillage. Sorghum and wheat were found to have higher no-tillage yields relative to tillage. No-tillage was also found to outperform conventional tillage in the southern United States with just the opposite occurring in the northern U.S. A silty soil was also found to reduce no-tillage yields. Several factors were found to decrease the chance of downside risk with no-tillage, they were sorghum, sandy soil, Northern Crescent, Northern Great Plains, Prairie Gateway and Southern Seaboard regions. Two factors that increased the chance of lowered no-tillage yields were increased rainfall and length of use of no-tillage. Differences in mean net returns and downside risk were evaluated using a mixed model and logit model. Results showed that no-tillage was more profitable than conventional tillage in the Mississippi Portal region, but less profitable in the Prairie Gateway. Net returns were lower for no-tillage wheat and soybeans when produced in a clay soil. Cotton grown in sand had higher no-till net returns, but increased rainfall decreased cotton net returns. A logit model showed certain factors decreased the probability of lower no-tillage net returns. There was less downside risk with wheat grown under no-tillage as well as less downside risk in the Southern Seaboard region and when no-tillage was used on a clay soil. There were factors that increased the probability of lower no-tillage net returns; increased precipitation, Northern Great Plains, Prairie Gateway and Basin & Range regions.

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