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No-till improves soil stability in great plains

A

s
tudy of various tillage practices over 19 years
across the central Great Plains shows that no-till makes soil much more stable
than plowed soil.

The study was conducted at four sites by ARS and university researchers. The
four sites were at Akron, Colorado; Hays and Tribune, Kansas; and Sidney,
Nebraska.

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.
 

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ARS Information Staff

5601 Sunnyside Avenue

Beltsville, MD 20705-5128

301/504-1638 |
www.ars.usda.gov/is

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