Location: Cropping Systems and Water Quality ResearchTitle: Reduced tillage and extended crop rotations improve soil health
Submitted to: Alliance of Crop, Soil, and Environmental Science Societies (ACSESS)
Publication Type: Other
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/1/2022
Publication Date: 10/6/2022
Citation: Veum, K.S. 2022. Reduced tillage and extended crop rotations improve soil health. Alliance of Crop, Soil, and Environmental Science Societies (ACSESS). 67:11-11. https://doi.org/10.1002/csan.20877.
Technical Abstract: Soil health testing has becoming increasingly popular, yet regionally relevant interpretations are not widely available because local soil and climate factors constrain the soil health potential of a farmer’s field. A team of USDA-ARS and University of Missouri scientists evaluated soil health indicators across soil and climate gradients in Missouri through a Department of Natural Resources state-wide, on-farm, cost-share program. Soil samples were collected from 5300 agricultural fields across the state and analyzed for several soil health indicators. Soils in different regions of the state responded similarly to tillage and crop rotation practices, showing a clear and substantial benefit of no-till and reduced tillage on soil health. The study also found that diversified rotations with three or more crops exhibited greater biological and physical soil health relative to monoculture or two-crop rotations. Return sampling after five years is planned to allow for a “before and after” comparison to evaluate the benefits of cover crop practices. This study illustrates the potential to increase soil carbon content and improve soil health with adoption of reduced tillage and extended crop rotations in Missouri. In addition, this study highlights the value of on-farm datasets from real-world production systems for evaluation of management practices.