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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Soil Management Environmental Effect on Cropland

Authors
item Reeder, Randall - OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY
item Westermann, Dale

Submitted to: Environmental Benefits of Conservation on Cropland: The Status of Our Knowledge
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: September 29, 2006
Publication Date: December 15, 2006
Citation: Reeder, R., Westermann, D.T. 2006. Soil management environmental effect on cropland. In: Schnepf, M., Cox, C., editors. Environmental Benefits of Conservation on Cropland: The Status of Our Knowledge. 1st edition. Ankeny, IA:Soil and Water Conservation Society. p. 1-87.

Interpretive Summary: Soil management practices not only affects soil resources but also the impacts water and air, and the plants and animals that depend upon these resources. Some management practices improve soil physical, biological and chemical properties, and maintain or improve water and air quality, while others may not be entirely beneficial. The 2002 Farm Bill directed the USDA, through the NRCS, to document the effects that approved conservation practices were having on soil, water and air quality, and wildlife habitat and populations. Most of the practices are partially funded through federal government conservation programs sponsored under the U.S. Farm Bill. This chapter documents the effect that selected soil management conservation practices have on soil, water and air criteria with literature reviews on twenty-nine conservation practices. Those that are discussed include tillage and cropping practices for residue management, crop sequencing, vegetative buffers for wind and water erosion reduction, wind erosion control, soil amendments and cropland conversion. The practices were evaluated for both rain-fed, as well as irrigated cropping systems. In general, nearly all of the conservation practices when implemented according to approved NRCS guidelines maintain or improve environmental parameters for soil, water and air while maintaining or increasing agricultural sustainability. For many practices there was an abundance of information available when implemented as a single practice. Information became limited when several practices were being implemented or when the conservation practices were evaluated at a watershed or river basin scale.

Technical Abstract: Soil management practices not only affects soil resources but also the impacts water and air, and the plants and animals that depend upon these resources. Some management practices improve soil physical, biological and chemical properties, and maintain or improve water and air quality, while others may not be entirely beneficial. The 2002 Farm Bill directed the USDA, through the NRCS, to document the effects that approved conservation practices were having on soil, water and air quality, and wildlife habitat and populations. Most of the practices are partially funded through federal government conservation programs sponsored under the U.S. Farm Bill. This chapter documents the effect that selected soil management conservation practices have on soil, water and air criteria with literature reviews on twenty-nine conservation practices. Those that are discussed include tillage and cropping practices for residue management, crop sequencing, vegetative buffers for wind and water erosion reduction, wind erosion control, soil amendments and cropland conversion. The practices were evaluated for both rain-fed, as well as irrigated cropping systems. In general, nearly all of the conservation practices when implemented according to approved NRCS guidelines maintain or improve environmental parameters for soil, water and air while maintaining or increasing agricultural sustainability. For many practices there was an abundance of information available when implemented as a single practice. Information became limited when several practices were being implemented or when the conservation practices were evaluated at a watershed or river basin scale.

Last Modified: 10/25/2014
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