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3 Ways Biologicals Enhance No-Till Farming

3 Ways Biologicals Enhance No-Till Farming
January 29, 2024
No-Till Farming

3 Ways that Biologicals Enhance No-Till Farming

An increasing number of U.S. farmers are adopting no-till farming, where crops are planted directly into the soil without plowing or tilling the ground. This allows crop residues and stubble to remain intact on the soil surface. This farming practice a contrast to the traditional plowing and tilling that have been go-to methods for preparing the soil for more than 100 years.

For farmers choosing to adopt no-till, agricultural biologicals can enhance that decision in three meaningful ways.

This blog covers:

  1. What is no-till farming?
  2. What are the advantages of no-till farming?
  3. 3 ways biologicals support no-till farming
  4. How can no-till farmers select the right biologicals?
  5. Can no-till farmers join a carbon farming program?
  6. How can Locus AG biologicals can support no-till farmers?

What is No-Till Farming?

No-till farming is an agricultural practice characterized by the avoidance of traditional plowing or tilling of the soil before planting crops.

In conventional tillage, farmers typically use plows to turn over and break up the soil, preparing it for planting. However, in no-till farming, farmers leave the soil undisturbed and plant seeds directly into the previous year’s crop residue or cover crops.

The primary goal of no-till farming is to minimize soil disturbance and maintain the structure of the soil. By not plowing, farmers aim to preserve organic matter, soil structure, and beneficial microorganisms, promoting improved water retention, reduced erosion, and enhanced overall soil fertility.

No-till farming is often associated with conservation tillage practices, which prioritize sustainable land management to mitigate environmental impacts.

What are the Advantages of No-Till Farming?

Reasons for choosing no-till farming practice typically include a mix of environmental and financial reasons:

  • Environmental reasons to choose no-till farming: By refraining from traditional plowing and minimizing soil disturbance, no-till farming helps maintain the soil structure, reducing erosion, sequestering carbon in the soil and preserving essential microorganisms. This leads to reduced runoff and increased nutrient availability, enhancing overall soil fertility.
  • Financial reasons to choose no-till farming: No-till farming brings the opportunity to conserve resources. This way of farming requires less fuel, as there is no need for frequent passes with heavy machinery. This not only lowers production costs but also can contribute to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions associated with agricultural operations, aligning with broader sustainability goals. No-till farming also brings the opportunity of time-saving advantages. With fewer tillage operations, there is often less labor and equipment investment required, which can be helpful both on large and small scale farms.

3 Ways to Enhance No-Till Farming with Biologicals

When making a change, like going to no-till, it’s important to consider decisions that can help set you up for success. Using agricultural biological products can enhance the benefits of no-till systems, even in early years.

Here are three benefits agricultural biologicals can bring to no-till farmers:

  1. Accelerated Growth in Cooler Soils: Because no-till fields are not tilled, the soil remains cooler. Biological products containing beneficial microbes can accelerate early season root growth and vegetative development even in cooler soils. This gives crops a boost right after planting.
  2. Expanded Root Systems to Access Nutrients: Root systems are more restricted and concentrated in no-till since the soil is undisturbed. The beneficial microbes in biologicals colonize the root system and support expanded lateral and vertical root growth. This allows crops to access more nutrients and moisture deeper in the soil profile.
  3. (The Potential to) Translocate and Cycle Nutrients Deeper into Soils: In no-till, nutrients like phosphorus and calcium can become stratified at the top of the soil and are at risk of runoff. Because biological products support increased root length and density that reaches deeper in the soil profile, biologicals that contain endophytic microbes – microorganisms that enter into and live symbiotically within plant tissues for the duration of the plant’s life cycle – have the potential to naturally translocate and cycle nutrients down deeper into the root zone where they are more available to the crop.

How Can No-Till Farmers Select the Right Biologicals?

There are a lot of agricultural biologicals on the market. When considering biologicals on the farm, a farmer should look for things such as:

  • Application method: Often biologicals can match a farmer’s preferred method, meaning no additional equipment purchase is required. These can include seed treatment, hopper box applied and in-furrow.
  • Complementary strains: Just because a product has more strains in it, doesn’t mean that it is a better product. A product should ensure the strains in the product complement each other and do not COMPETE with each other or those in the soil to survive.
  • CFU count and application rate: Look for products with a high CFU count and low application rate: This allows a product to remain easy-to-use
  • Trial data: Does the biological product have third-party, randomized and replicated data to back its claims?
  • Compatibility data: The product should provide compatibility data to show it will work well with other inputs. This should also include tank use instructions.
  • Shelf-stable: The product should be formulated to remain shelf-stable, and provide clear instructions about the shelf-life of the product.
  • Made in the USA: There are clear benefits to biological products made in the USA – including increased quality control, better availability and improved freshness and potency.
    Read more: Advantages of Selecting Biologicals Made in the USA

Can No-Till Farmers Join Carbon Farming Programs?

Farmers looking to adopt new no-till farming practices will find joining a carbon farming program less troublesome, as the adoption will be considered a new practice change for the farm.

Long-time no-tillers however, have historically been kept out of carbon farming programs because these programs require the adoption of a new regenerative ag practice above what has been done on the farm.

READ MORE: What is additionality in carbon farming?

In recent years, very few programs have offered these no-till farmers an invitation into carbon farming.

Locus AG’s CarbonNOW is one of these programs. 

CarbonNOW has a very high eligibility rate among long-time no-tillers because our row crop biological products are approved as an additionality. This means that even if you have not historically been eligible for other programs (as a long time cover cropper, practicing reduced tillage, etc.), you may be eligible for our program with the use of our biologicals.

LEARN MORE: CarbonNOW – Locus AG’s Carbon Farming Program

How Can Locus AG Biologicals Support No-Till Farmers?

When looking for biological products to complement a no-till system, consider Locus AG biologicals.

With Locus AG biologicals, farmers often experience significant benefits of:

  1. Expanded root growth
  2. Increased nutrient uptake
  3. Enhanced plant vigor
  4. Improved soil quality
  5. Increased yields & ROI

Because of the endophytic nature of Locus AG biologicals, farmers experience these benefits regardless of tillage practice or soil conditions.


Locus AG biologicals are produced in the USA, available for immediate shipment, and are supplied through many major agricultural distributors and retailers. 

Additionally, Locus AG provides no-till farmers (new and veteran) the unique opportunity to enter the carbon farming market through CarbonNOW.


Transitioning to continuous no-till can take some adjustment. But the long-term rewards – like improved soil quality, reduced fuel and labor costs, higher organic matter levels over time, and the opportunity to participate in carbon farming programs – can be plentiful.

Want to learn how Locus AG vital biologicals can increase your yields and profits?

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