Ken Rulon, Arcadia, Ind., long-term no-tiller and spreadsheet whiz, calculates a 12% cost savings (corn) over conventional tillage in his family’s long-term no-till operation ($3.81 per bu. no-till cost of production vs. $4.34 per bu. conventional tillage). He’s recently updated the analysis using 2013 costs that reveal the savings over conventional tillage, including:

  • A 19.1% savings on all equipment costs ($24.50 per acre) in no-till versus conventional tillage.
  • A 71% savings in fungicide/insecticide costs ($16.02 per acre savings) due to more effective disease control on the no-till ground from beneficial insects.
  • A 35-lb. per acre reduction in total actual N applied (178 lbs. per acre no-till vs. 213 lbs. per acre conventional because no-till’s higher soil organic matter increases N availability.
  • A $7 per acre cover-crop cost ($14/every other year in rotation).
  • A $2 per acre increased cost for precision equipment for planting and anhydrous ammonia.
  • A $20 per acre NRCS water-quality incentive payment for no-till.


These savings calculations are based on:

  • $5/bu. corn & $12/bu. soybeans.
  • Corn yield of 185 bu. (no yield drag in long-term no-till).
  • Bean yield of 58 bu. (a 3-bu. soybean yield boost in no-till (50-50 corn/bean rotation)).

The 5,600-acre Rulon central-Indiana family farm has been 100% no-till for 21 years and was the 2011 national Conservation Legacy award winner. For details on the operation, please see or