The National Crop Residue Management Survey is a valuable tool that can be used to measure adoption of important soil-saving practices, demonstrate energy cost savings and monitor efforts to improve the environment. The Survey has been compiled and tracked by CTIC since 1982 and is the only survey in the U.S. to measure and track the type of tillage used by crop at the county level. Tillage methods tracked include no-till, ridge-till, reduced-till and intensive/conventional tillage, according to NRCS definitions.

Project Partners

State offices of the Natural Resources Conservation Service, local NRCS field offices, Conservation Districts and Extension offices

Project Description

The nationwide survey of conservation tillage practices started as a partnership effort between CTIC and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), conservation districts and Extension. After the 2004 collection cycle, NRCS no longer required field staff to collect the data. Since then, CTIC has encouraged local partners to collect the data on a voluntary basis.
For more than two decades, the Survey has been used by government agencies, academic researchers, policy makers, industry, journalists, agriculture groups, conservation groups and many others to track trends in conservation tillage adoption. It is because we have this trend of data that we know no-till  in 2004 was used on 45.5 million acres more than in 1990, a 269 percent increase. Some of the valuable ways Survey results are used include:
  • assess successes of Farm Bill programs, state and local-level initiatives
  • document what farmers save in fuel usage at the county, state and national levels
  • track the progress of, and measure trends in, conservation tillage adoption
  • prioritize areas for program focus, such as Conservation Stewardship Program
  • provide assessment data as a core component of local watershed management plans.


CTIC is working to develop new software that will simplify the collection process, allow data to upload to CTIC's web site with a click of a button and tie collection points to GPS coordinates. With Purdue University, CTIC is exploring the use of remote sensing technology to estimate residue cover and, ideally, increase efficiency and accuracy of data collection.

For More Information

Visit the CRM Survey web page at