Submitted to: Sustainable Soils: The Place of Organic Matter in Sustaining Soils and Their Productivity
Publication Type: Other
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/1/2003
Publication Date: 9/1/2003
Citation: REICOSKY, D.C. FOREWARD. WOLF, B., SNYDER, G.H., EDITORS. FOOD PRODUCTS PRESS, NEW YORK, NY. SUSTAINABLE SOILS: THE PLACE OF ORGANIC MATTER IN SUSTAINING SOILS AND THEIR PRODUCTIVITY. 2003. P. IX-XII.
Technical Abstract: Intensive agriculture has adequately met the food production needs in the US, but not without some negative impacts. Many soils in the U.S. have lost between 30 and 50% of the soil organic matter (SOM) present at the start of agricultural production. An extreme case is the organic soils of south Florida where drainage and intensive tillage for sugar cane production have caused loss of SOM that has resulted in a 3 m of soil subsidence. Ever since Jethro Tull (1674-1741), English agriculturist and inventor of the agricultural seeder, extolled the virtues of thoroughly tilling the soil to provide a mellow seed bed, there have been great efforts to develop and utilize machinery that would completely turn and/or mix crop residue and soil. Development of plows with iron tips, and later all steel moldboard plows or plow disks, led to a thorough job of fracturing and turning the soil with considerable mixing. The development of the rototiller provided the ultimate in mixing the soil and crop residue. These equipment developments, while initially beneficial for mining nutrients from SOM, have caused a serious decline in SOM that needs to be revaluated and reversed.