Balancing tillage, soil loss, and profitability

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2012-11-28
Authors
Hanna, H. Mark
Hanna, H. Mark
Helmers, Matt
Helmers, Matthew
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Abstract

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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