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Can one-time tillage improve no-till?
Date:6/27/2010

MADISON, WI, June 28th, 2010 A one-time tillage has no adverse effects on yield or soil properties on no-till land, according to field research conducted at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Although tillage is another expense for farmers and generally increases the risk of soil erosion, a one-time tillage may be performed to correct some problem, such as a perennial weed problem.

The feasibility study was conducted for five years at two locations in eastern Nebraska. Charles Wortmann led the interdisciplinary team in examining the effects of a one-time tillage on no-till land for grain yield, reducing stratification of soil properties, increasing soil organic matter, and improving soil physical properties. The results were published in the July-August 2010 edition of Agronomy Journal.

Continuous no-till crop production has been widely adopted for reduced fuel consumption and labor requirement, erosion control, improved surface soil properties, increased profitability, and often increased yield. Crop yields have generally increased in the western and southern parts of the U.S., although northern agricultural lands have seen some declines in yield. Nebraska occupies a transition zone, with little change in yield due to no-till.

The researchers were testing whether one-time tillage of no-till could help manage certain perennial weeds, and reduce phosphorus stratification and runoff. They also wanted to determine if a one-time tillage, by burying the enriched surface soil and bringing deeper, less improved soil to the surface, improve soil structure and the distribution of soil nutrients.

Tillage did reduce stratification of phosphorus, soil organic matter and soil bulk density for the first years, but by the end of the five year experiment there was no difference between one-time till and no-till treatments. One-time tillage had no effect on soil organic matter content in the surface one foot of soil after five years.
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Contact: Sara Uttech
suttech@sciencesocieties.org
608-268-4948
American Society of Agronomy
Source:Eurekalert

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