Page Banner

United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Benefits of Conservation Tillage on Rainfall and Water Management

Authors
item Arriaga, Francisco
item Balkcom, Kipling

Submitted to: Georgia Water Resources Conference
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: April 25, 2006
Publication Date: April 25, 2006
Citation: Arriaga, F.J., Balkcom, K.S. 2005. Benefits of conservation tillage on rainfall and water management. In: Hatcher, K. J., editor. Proceedings of the 2005 Georgia Water Resources Conference, April 25-27, 2005, The University of Georgia, Athens, GA.

Interpretive Summary: Agriculture represents an important economic sector in the US. However, agriculture is facing pressure to improve production efficiency because of global competition and population growth. Water management is a critical component in crop production. Conventional tillage systems, which disrupt the soil surface and bury large amounts of crop residue, typically lose up to 30% of received rainfall in the form of runoff. These tillage systems also decrease water efficiency due to increased evaporation. Conservation tillage systems reduce soil disturbance and maintain crop residue on the soil surface which protects the soil from erosive forces, moderates soil temperature, provides weed control, improves infiltration, and reduces evaporation. Soils under conservation tillage have increased water storage capacity from additional soil organic matter. Properly managed soils protect surface water (e.g. streams and lakes) because sediment transport through runoff is reduced. Conservation tillage can help increase agricultural sustainability, reduce water needs and protect our natural resources.

Technical Abstract: Agriculture represents an important economic sector in Georgia, with a gross farm income of 4.91 and 6.75 billion dollars in 02 and 03, respectively. However, agriculture is facing pressure to improve its efficiency because of global competition and population growth. Water is an integral component in agricultural production and farmers must use this resource as efficiently as possible. Conventional tillage systems, which disrupt the soil surface and bury large amounts of crop residue, typically lose up to 30% of received rainfall in the form of runoff. These tillage systems also decrease irrigation efficiency due to increased evaporation. Conservation tillage systems reduce soil disturbance and maintain crop residue on the soil surface which protects the soil from erosive forces, moderates soil temperature, provides weed control, improves infiltration, and reduces evaporation. Soils under conservation tillage have increased water storage capacity due to additional soil organic matter. Properly managed soils protect surface water (e.g. streams and lakes) because sediment transport through runoff is reduced. Conservation tillage benefits agriculture and helps protect our natural resources.

Last Modified: 4/21/2014
Footer Content Back to Top of Page