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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: SOIL AND CROP MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS TO SUSTAIN AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTION AND ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY IN THE NORTHERN GREAT PLAINS Title: Importance of information on tillage practices in the modelling of environmental processes and in the use of environmental indicators

Authors
item Lobb, David - UNIV. OF MANITOBA
item Huffman, Edward - AG. & AGRI-FOOD CANADA
item Reicosky, Donald

Submitted to: Journal of Environmental Management
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: April 27, 2006
Publication Date: February 11, 2007
Repository URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10113/15143
Citation: Lobb, D., Huffman, E., Reicosky, D.C. 2007. Importance of Information on Tillage Practices in the Modelling of Environmental Processes and in the Use of Environmental Indicators. Journal of Environmental Management. 82:377-387.

Interpretive Summary: A wide variety of tillage equipment, practices and systems is available to farmers which provide opportunities to enhance environmental performance. These opportunities have made tillage a popular focus of environmental policies and programs such as environmental indicators for agriculture. This paper provides a very brief examination of the role of tillage in crop production, its effects on biophysical processes and, therefore, its impact on the environment. Models of biophysical processes that are briefly examined demonstrate the importance of tillage relative to other farm management practices and to demonstrate the detail of tillage data that these models can demand. The focus of this paper is an examination of the use of information on tillage in Canada's Agri-environmental indicators initiative, NAHARP (National Agri-environmental Health Analysis and Reporting Program). This information will assist scientists, engineers and policy makers in developing improved tillage methods to minimize the gaseous loss and to improve soil carbon management. Farmers can develop and utilize new management techniques for enhancing soil carbon by increasing the quantity and quality of crop residues and by changing the type and intensity of tillage. Incorporating carbon storage in conservation planning demonstrates concern for our global resources and presents a positive role for soil carbon policies and our future quality of life.

Technical Abstract: Tillage has been and will always be an integral part of crop production. Tillage can result in the degradation of soil, water, and air quality. Of all farm management practices, tillage may have the greatest impact on the environment. A wide variety of tillage equipment, practices and systems is available to farmers which provide opportunities to enhance environmental performance. These opportunities have made tillage a popular focus of environmental policies and programs such as environmental indicators for agriculture. This paper provides a very brief examination of the role of tillage in crop production, its effects on biophysical processes and, therefore, its impact on the environment. Models of biophysical processes that are briefly examined demonstrate the importance of tillage relative to other farm management practices and to demonstrate the detail of tillage data that these models can demand. The focus of this paper is an examination of the use of information on tillage in Canada's agri-environmental indicators initiative, NAHARP (National Agri-environmental Health Analysis and Reporting Program). Information on tillage is required for several indicators in NAHARP. The type of data used, its source, and its quality are discussed. Recommendations regarding the collection of tillage data and use of tillage information are presented.

Last Modified: 11/25/2014
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