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2019 South Dakota Cropping Systems Inventory

No-till, a cropping system that protects the soil against erosion and aids in regeneration of topsoil, continued to be the dominant choice of cropping systems for South Dakota producers in 2019.

Photo of NRCS State Conservationist Jeff Zimprich
Jeff Zimprich, NRCS State Conservationist

NRCS inventories since 2004 show the use of conventional tillage, which leaves the least amount of ground surface protected by crop residues, has remained fairly level at about 17 percent. No-till percentage has grown from a 37 percent share of total cropping system use in 2004 to 50 percent this year. 

In the wettest year on record for South Dakota, half the cropland in the state was planted using a cropping system without tillage. That system, no-till farming, has been the predominant cropping system on South Dakota cropland in recent years, but this is the first year the practice was used to plant 50 percent of the state’s crops. 

More than 900,000 acres of cover crops were planted in South Dakota last year. Nine counties now have more than 30,000 acres of cover crops, and another 22 counties have between 10,000 and 30,000 acres. According to the 2019 CSI, 20 counties, mostly in central South Dakota, have more than 75 percent of their cropland under no-till systems.

Read the full News Release

Photographic Images for 2019 Cropping Systems Inventory



Cover of the 2019 Cropping System Inventory report Chart showing cropping system in SD  from 2004 to 2019 Graphic shows the percent of no-till planting per county in 2019 Graphic shows counties that were to wet to plant in 2019

Cover of Report (JPG; 609KB)
Full report printable spread (PDF; 25MB)
Full report printable single sheet
(PDF; 40MB)

New Report Available “2019 South Dakota Cropping Systems Inventory”

The NRCS has tracked tillage systems and no-till for 37 years to help measure progress in the use of soil saving and soil building farming systems. The printed publication and orders for quantities can be requested from Tami Burmeister at (605) 352-1224 or

2004-2019 Crop Systems table (PDF; 2972KB)
2004-2019 Crop Systems table (JPG; 302KB)

About 4 million acres went unplanted in South Dakota in 2019; no-till systems were used on 50% of the acres that were planted, matching all three tillage systems combined.
Graphic Courtesy USDA/NRCS, South Dakota 

Percentage of No-till by County in 2019 (JPG; 1678KB)

NO-TILL STILL STRONG IN CENTRAL SOUTH DAKOTA: Twenty counties, mostly in central South Dakota, now have three-quarters or more of the cropland farmed under no-till cropping systems.


Too Wet to Plant Infographic (JPG; 5,419KB)

"CSI TOO Wet to Plant" Infographic (includes map that shows, by county, acres that could not be planted in 2019.)






Chart shows the amount of rainfall for 2019 Chart describes SD is 50 percent no-till A photo of No-till farming, a system of planting without tilling the land Photo of no-till beans

Over The Top Infographic (JPG; 520KB)

Over The Top Infographic (PDF; 731KB)

"Over the Top in 2019: infographic depicts above-average rainfall in the first 9 months of 2019 at 12 climate sites in South Dakota.


Halfway There in 2019 Infographic (JPG; 1215KB)
Halfway There in 2019 Infographic (PDF; 2801KB)

"Halfway There" Infographic lists No-till as being used to plant half the crop acres that were planted in 2019, with other information.



Barsness Planting Green (JPG; 5,355KB)

No-till farming, a system of planting without tilling the land, was the preferred cropping system on 50 percent of the land that was planted to crops in South Dakota in 2019. No-till is often used in combination with cover crops, which help build and regenerate soil.

NRCS Photo by Eric Barsness


No-Till Beans_Barsness Codington (JPG; 1726KB)

No-till farming, a system of planting without tilling the land, reached a milestone in South Dakota in 2019 by being used on 50 percent of the land that was planted to crops.

NRCS Photo by Eric Barsness