Balancing tillage, soil loss, and profitability

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2012-11-28
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Hanna, H. Mark
Extension Agricultural Engineer
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Proceedings of the Integrated Crop Management Conference
Iowa State University Conferences and Symposia

The Iowa State University Integrated Crop Management Conference is Iowa's premier crop production education event. No other program in Iowa brings together the diverse range of topics, slate of expert presenters and results of the latest University research.

The ICM Conference offers workshops focusing on the latest in crop production technology. Experts from Iowa and surrounding states will provide research updates and results in soil fertility, soil and water management, crop production and pest management.

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Profitability and environmental sustainability are major objectives in crop production. Decisions on whether to till and what operation to use have direct impact on these objectives. Because of potential adverse affects on soil erosion, structure, aggregate stability, and general soil health, potential for benefits should be carefully considered prior to field operations. Tillage objectives include soil loosening, incorporation of fertilizer or pesticide, weed control, and surface leveling after prior tillage to accommodate planting. Reducing surface residue cover may allow topsoil to warm faster in spring, promote soil drying, and alter the environment for some disease pathogens. Conversely, soil on sloping areas is exposed to longer term degradation by erosion and moisture loss in dry conditions is counterproductive.

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