For this assignment please write a 750-1,000 word essay on conservation tillage in Kansas.
Be sure to include the following:
First start with an overview of what major field crops are grown in Kansas?
What the most popular management techniques are as far as tillage goes?
Talk about how this has changed over time, and if these techniques were always in place or if they were more recently adopted?
Also, note any variation in these practices in different parts of the state.
Tillage has been a common event in farming for centuries. New information and management practices are demonstrating better ways of managing the soil to reduce erosion and improve productivity and profitability. Tillage destroys the soil structure, actually increasing the weeds and reducing the water holding capacity of the soil. Highly erodible areas of a field can lose more than 5 tons of soil per year with conventional tillage. Converting to no-till management can reduce production costs more than $30 per acre per year, saving topsoil and reducing management time in the field.
Tillage is the preparation of land to grow crops, which involves digging, stirring, and overturning soil. Conservation tillage is any method of soil cultivation that keeps at least one-third of cultivated soil covered with the previous year’s crop residue. There are several types of reduced or low-intensity tillage, including mulch till, ridge till, strip till, and no-till; under no-till farming the soil is not tilled at all. Conservation tillage is often used with crop rotations, cover cropping, composting, and other soil erosion control practices. Tillage practices affect soil carbon and water pollution, as well as farmers’ energy and fertilizer use
There is strong evidence that conservation tillage and no-till practices reduce soil erosion and improve soil quality and structure, especially in the soil’s top surface layer3, 4, 5, 6, 7. Improving soil quality and structure increases water penetration and soil’s moisture content and reduces run-off2, 8. Agricultural run-off can carry excess nutrients, sediment, pesticides, and other pollutants that contaminate surface water and groundwater9.
Conservation tillage improves soil quality by increasing soil microbial properties, particularly soil microbial count and fungal and bacterial biomass, as well as significantly increasing soil total carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) concentrations3, 4. Greater soil organic C concentrations increase soil productivity, biological activity, and improve crop resilience to extreme weather conditions6.
Conservation tillage practices also improve soil physical properties, for example, bulk density, available water capacity, and soil pH5. Effectiveness varies depending on site context and duration of conservation tillage practices, with greater improvements in soil quality the longer conservation tillage practices are used3, 4. Soil quality improvements from conservation tillage and no-till practices are enhanced when combined with increased crop residue retention practices4, crop rotations, and cover cropping10. Soil texture also influences effectiveness; conservation tillage practices are least effective for sandy soils3.