Submitted to: Beltsville Agricultural Research Center Symposium
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: May 4, 1992
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: Furrow erosion and the resulting sediment loss reduces soil productivity and impairs water quality. A series of replicated, large plot, field investigations were conducted over a six years to develop and evaluate alterative cropping systems to reduce furrow erosion. The primary thrust was to use the smallest number of tillage operations possible over the complete crop rotation cycle. The results provided a number of alterative cropping sequences that could be used without crop yield or quality loss that reduced soil erosion and sediment loss by 80 to 100%. Results also demonstrated that no-till farming can be used successfully for some crops on furrow irrigated lands. Corn or cereals were grown successfully without tillage following alfalfa, as well as cereal grains following corn, and corn following cereal or corn. The number of tillage operations were reduced from about 40 over a five-year rotation for some traditional cropping sequences using traditional tillage to 8 or 9 for some alternative cropping sequences using conservation tillage approaches. Crop yield and quality were the same for traditional and conservation tillage cropping systems. An economic analyses showed that operational costs saved by eliminating tillage operations in the increased the average net profits from $124 to $247 per hectare per year compared to those for traditional systems. The amount of soil loss was decreased from a range of 50 to 190 Mg ha-1 over five years for traditional systems to a range of 0 to 30 Mg ha-1 by implementing these new conservation tillage cropping systems. The value of the soil saved was not given a dollar value, but it would be large.