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ARS Home » Plains Area » Sidney, Montana » Northern Plains Agricultural Research Laboratory » Agricultural Systems Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #367288

Research Project: Ecologically-Sound Pest, Water and Soil Management Practices for Northern Great Plains Cropping Systems

Location: Agricultural Systems Research

Title: No-till farming system in North America

Author
item Sainju, Upendra

Submitted to: No-Till Farming Systems
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/1/2020
Publication Date: 10/2/2020
Citation: Sainju, U.M. 2020. No-till farming system in North America. In Dang, Y.P., Dalal,R.C., Menzies, N.W., editors. No-Till Farming Systems for Sustainable Agriculture. Cham, Switzerland: Springer Nature Switzerland AG. p.587-599. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-46409-7_32.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-46409-7_32

Interpretive Summary: No-till system is one of the most effective management practice to reduce soil erosion, but its effect on soil and environment quality and crop yields compared to conventional tillage can vary from one region to another, depending on soil and climatic conditions and cropping systems. In a review on the impact of tillage on crop yields, soil health, and environmental quality, ARS researcher in Sidney, MT found that crop yields varied among tillage practices in irrigated cropping systems, but were similar to or greater in no-till than conventional tillage due to enhanced soil water conservation in dryland cropping systems. Similarly, soil organic matter, a key indicator of soil health, varied among tillage practices in humid region, but was greater in no-till than conventional tillage in arid and semiarid regions. While nitrogen leaching was greater in no-till than conventional tillage, no-till reduced net greenhouse gas emissions, regardless of cropping systems. Producers can benefit in enhancing soil health and environmental quality and sustaining crop yields by using the no-till system.

Technical Abstract: No-till (NT) farming system is one of the prominent conservation management practices to reduce soil erosion, sustain crop yields, and improve soil health and environmental quality. The NT system has variable effect on crop yields and soil and environmental quality compared to conventional tillage (CT) system, depending on soil and climatic conditions and cropping systems. While crop yields are variable in irrigated cropping systems, yields are similar or greater in NT than CT in dryland cropping systems. As a result, soil organic matter is also similar or greater in NT than CT in dryland cropping systems, but variable with tillage practices in irrigated cropping systems, especially in humid regions. Nitrogen leaching can be greater with NT than CT due to the presence of large pores. Similarly, N2O emissions can be greater with NT than CT due to increased soil water content, but CO2 emissions can be lower. However, global warming potential (GWP) and greenhouse gas intensity (GHGI) can be lower in NT than CT. Although NT provides more ecosystem services than CT, adoption of the NT system by producers has been slow due to some social and economic concerns. This chapter discusses the impact of the NT system on crop yields, soil health, and environmental quality compared to the CT system and challenges and opportunities of adopting NT in North America.