Conservation Tillage in Oklahoma: Perceptions and Demographics of Producers
This circular discusses conservation tillage, and how producers manage it. This publication contains the results a survey sent to producers with questions about their understanding and perception of conservation tillage, farm size, implements, and personal demographics. Conservation tillage decreases soil erosion, increases soil moisture, and reduces labor and fuel needs. Nationally, many farmers have adopted conservation tillage practices because of these benefits; however, Oklahoma farmers have been much slower to adopt conservation tillage practices with only 29.5% of acres under conservation-till compared to the national average of 40.7% (Conservation Technology Information Center, 2004). Given Oklahoma’s historical issues with erosion and the devastating effects of the dustbowl years, it is troubling that adoption of conservation tillage practices remains relatively low.
A 1990 survey of Oklahoma farmers (OSU Extension Publication E-921) showed most producers felt that soil erosion was a problem on their farm, yet many farmers had not adopted conservation tillage practices. The purpose of this report is to provide insight as to why adoption of conservation tillage practices in Oklahoma remains lower than the national average. Is it because of machinery costs? Are farmers afraid of relying on chemicals? Does continuous wheat production hinder conservation tillage adoption? Are farmers simply reluctant to try newer practices? In summary, why are the benefits of conservation tillage not outweighing the costs for farmers in Oklahoma? A survey was distributed to help answer these questions by analyzing farmers’ current practices and perceptions of conservation tillage.