Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/1/2006
Publication Date: 8/1/2007
Citation: Reicosky, D.C. 2007. Conservation Agriculture: Environmental Benefits of Reduced Tillage and Soil Carbon Management in Water-limited Areas of Central Asia. In: Lal, R., Suleimenov, M., Stewart, B.A., Hansen, D.O., Doraiswamy, P., editors. Climate Change and Terrestrial Carbon Sequestration in Central Asia. New York, NY: Taylor & Francis. p. 199-209.
Technical Abstract: Agricultural carbon (C) sequestration may be one of the most cost-effective ways to slow processes of global warming and enhance plant-available water in water-limited areas of Central Asia. Numerous environmental benefits and enhanced water-use efficiency result from agricultural activities that sequester soil C and contribute to crop production and environmental security. Increase in surface residues and soil C increases infiltration, decreases runoff, increases water-holding capacity, and decreases evaporation. As part of no-regret strategies, practices that sequester soil C also help reduce soil erosion and improve water quality and are consistent with more sustainable and less chemically-dependent agriculture. While we learn more about residue management and soil C storage and their central role in direct environmental benefits, we must understand the secondary environmental benefits and what they mean to production agriculture. Increasing soil C storage in water-limited areas can increase fertility and nutrient cycling, decrease wind and water erosion, minimize compaction, enhance water quality, decrease C emissions, impede pesticide movement and generally enhance environmental quality. The sum of each individual benefit adds to a total package with major significance on a regional scale. Incorporating C storage in conservation planning in areas of limited water resources demonstrates concern for our global resources and presents a positive role for soil C that will have a major impact on our future quality of life.