Sometimes the adage that less is more certainly rings true. That's the case with conservation tillage.
Conservation tillage reduces the amount of soil disturbance on a field because it leaves crop residue on the soil surface. With conventional tillage, plant residue is removed or incorporated into the soil. Conservation tillage helps to reduce runoff and soil erosion, a particular problem with the sandy soils of the southeastern United States.
Southeastern soils have been intensively cropped and are prone to drought and erosion. While rainfall registers about 50 inches per year, growers often have to irrigate their crops during extended drought periods. Producers in this region face a major problem: maintaining crop yields and water-use efficiency while addressing soil and water quality concerns associated with sediment, fertilizer, and pesticide losses to off-site areas.
Scientists at the Southeast Watershed Research Laboratory in Tifton, Georgia, are evaluating conservation tillage systems to measure how well they reduce runoff and erosion, increase...