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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Are Soil Temperatures under No-Till Really Cooler?

Author
item HATFIELD, JERRY

Submitted to: Strategies for No Till
Publication Type: Popular Publication
Publication Acceptance Date: January 15, 1996
Publication Date: N/A

Technical Abstract: No-till fields are assumed to be cooler than conventional tillage fields due to the presence of crop residue on the surface. These measurements have been made during the spring using fresh residue and there hasn't been any detailed measurements throughout the year. A study was conducted on a Nicollet loam on a long-term study comparing no-till, chisel-plow, and moldboard plow systems. Soil temperatures were measured at 9 depths continually throughout the year. The largest effect of tillage practice was on the diurnal range. No-till had the smallest range of temperatures between the maximum and minimum temperature followed by chisel-plow and moldboard plow. Mean soil temperature in the upper 10 cm was not affected by tillage practice. Differences in the diurnal range are sufficient to cause a reduction in the rate of emergence on plants in the spring. In the fall, the no-till exhibited the slowest rate of cooling because of the insulating effects of the fresh residue. Soil temperatures can be managed in tillage systems, and understanding the annual variation can be incorporated into management decisions.

Last Modified: 9/10/2014
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