Reduced tillage improves crop yields, soil health

Farmers are becoming more aware of the role of healthy soil in an increasingly unpredictable climate, but they need information about the benefits of soil health practices. To support farmers considering reduced-tillage, University of Wyoming land-grant scientists compared minimum-till to traditional practices under full and deficit irrigation.The large plots served as a framework for studies of fertility, weeds, crop varieties, cover crops and other subjects. The minimum-till practices accrued almost a ton of soil organic matter per acre per year after six years in a sugar beet-dry bean-barley rotation. Sugarbeet and barley yields under deficit irrigation and minimum-till exceeded those under deficit irrigation and traditional tillage.Theseresults support adopting reduced-tillage approaches in intensively cropped irrigated production areas. Minimum tillage lowers farmers’ production costs and supports biodiversity, water resources, nutrient cycling, carbon storage and other ecosystem services.

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