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No-till farming improves soil stability, research finds

Date:
May 13, 2010
Source:
USDA/Agricultural Research Service
Summary:
A new 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.

A joint ARS-university project shows that no-till makes soil much more stable than plowed soil in the central Great Plains.
Credit: Photo courtesy of NRCS-USDA

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 Great Plains 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 soil carbon, which helps bind or glue soil 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 soil erosion 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 Soil Science Society of America Journal.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by USDA/Agricultural Research Service. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. H. Blanco-Canqui, M. M. Mikha, J. G. Benjamin, L. R. Stone, A. J. Schlegel, D. J. Lyon, M. F. Vigil, P. W. Stahlman. Regional Study of No-Till Impacts on Near-Surface Aggregate Properties that Influence Soil Erodibility. Soil Science Society of America Journal, 2009; 73 (4): 1361 DOI: 10.2136/sssaj2008.0401

Cite This Page:

USDA/Agricultural Research Service. "No-till farming improves soil stability, research finds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 May 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100511112013.htm>.
USDA/Agricultural Research Service. (2010, May 13). No-till farming improves soil stability, research finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100511112013.htm
USDA/Agricultural Research Service. "No-till farming improves soil stability, research finds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100511112013.htm (accessed August 29, 2014).

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