No-till farming improves soil stability

May 11, 2010

A joint Agricultural Research Service (ARS)-multi-university study across the central Great Plains on the effects of more than 19 years of various tillage practices shows that no-till makes soil much more stable than plowed soil.

The study was led by Humberto Blanco-Canqui at Kansas State University at Hays, Kan., and Maysoon Mikha at the ARS Central Research Station in Akron, Colo. ARS researchers Joe Benjamin and Merle Vigil at Akron were part of the research team that studied four sites across the Great Plains: Akron; Hays and Tribune, Kan., and the University of Nebraska at Sidney.

No-till stores more , which helps bind or glue particles together, making the first inch of topsoil two to seven times less vulnerable to the destructive force of raindrops than plowed soil.

The structure of these aggregates in the first inch of topsoil is the first line of defense against by water or wind. Understanding the resistance of these aggregates to the erosive forces of wind and rain is critical to evaluating soil erodibility. This is especially important in semiarid regions such as the Great Plains, where low precipitation, high evaporation, and yield variability can interact with intensive tillage to alter aggregate properties and soil organic matter content.

Tillage makes soil less resistant to being broken apart by raindrops because the clumping is disrupted and soil organic matter is lost through oxidation when soil particles are exposed to air.

A paper on this research was published in a recent issue of the .

Explore further: Before selling carbon credits, read this

Provided by: United States Department of Agriculture-Research, Education, and Economics

0 shares

Related Stories

Before selling carbon credits, read this

May 18, 2007

Storing carbon in agricultural soils presents an immediate option to reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide and slow global warming. Farmers who adopt practices that store carbon in soil may be able to "sell" the stored carbon ...

ARS Explores Ways to Keep Carbon in the Soil

December 3, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists are testing out alternative ways of tilling the soil and rotating crops to see if they can help wheat farmers in Oregon sequester more carbon in the soil and ...

Recommended for you

Drought's lasting impact on forests

July 30, 2015

In the virtual worlds of climate modeling, forests and other vegetation are assumed to bounce back quickly from extreme drought. But that assumption is far off the mark, according to a new study of drought impacts at forest ...

A cataclysmic event of a certain age

July 27, 2015

At the end of the Pleistocene period, approximately 12,800 years ago—give or take a few centuries—a cosmic impact triggered an abrupt cooling episode that earth scientists refer to as the Younger Dryas.

'Carbon sink' detected underneath world's deserts

July 28, 2015

The world's deserts may be storing some of the climate-changing carbon dioxide emitted by human activities, a new study suggests. Massive aquifers underneath deserts could hold more carbon than all the plants on land, according ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.