Using no-till and corn-soybean rotation practices in farm fields can significantly reduce field emissions of the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide, according to a Purdue University study.
Tony Vyn, a professor of agronomy, found that no-till reduces nitrous oxide emissions by 57 percent over chisel tilling, which mixes crop residue into surface soil, and 40 percent over moldboard tilling, which completely inverts soil as well as the majority of surface residue. Chisel plowing is the most widely used form of tilling before planting corn in Indiana, he said.
"There was a dramatic reduction simply because of the no-till," said Vyn, whose findings were published in the Soil Science Society of America Journal. "We think the soil disturbance and residue placement impacts of chisel plowing and moldboard plowing modify the soil physical and microbial environments such that more nitrous oxide is created and released."
During early season nitrogen fertilizer applications on corn, no-till may actually reduce nitrous oxide emissions from other forms of nitrogen present in, or resulting from, that fertilizer.
Nitrous oxide is the third-most abundant greenhouse gas in the atmosphere but, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, has about 310 times more heat-trapping power than carbon dioxide in part because of its 120-year lifespan.
"This suggests there is another benefit to no-till beyond soil conservation and improving water quality," Vyn said. "There is an air quality benefit as well."
Using a corn-soybean rotation instead of continuous corn decreased nitrous oxide emissions by 20 percent in the three-year study. Vyn said the reduction could be even greater, though, because for the long-term experiment, both continuous corn and rotation crops were fertilized based on the needs of continuous corn. A rotation cornfield would normally receive 20 percent less nitrogen.
Vyn said finding ways to reduce nitrous oxide emissions is important because food production accounts for about 58 percent of all emissions of the gas in the United States. Of that, about 38 percent is coming from the soil.
"There is more nitrous oxide emission coming from agriculture than the tailpipes of cars and trucks," Vyn said. "And there is likely to be more nitrous oxide emission if we increase nitrogen application rates to increase cereal yields."
The study took place on a consistently managed 30-year-old rotation/tillage experiment near Purdue.
The next step in Vyn's research is to develop integrated management practices to reduce nitrous oxide emissions even more. He's also studying additives that slow the conversion of nitrogen-based fertilizers to chemicals that can emit nitrous oxide.
A U.S. Department of Agriculture grant to the Consortium for Agricultural Soil Mitigation of Greenhouse Gases at Kansas State University funded the research. The Indiana Corn Marketing Council and Dow AgroSciences are funding his present on-farm studies of integrated management practices to reduce nitrous oxide emissions.
News release written by Brian Wallheimer, Purdue University, (765) 496-2050, email@example.com
If you’ve been at all interested in or curious about conservation tillage systems for silage crop production, now is the time to begin preparations and to gear up for the 2011 season.
In recent years, members of California’s Conservation Tillage and Cropping Systems Workgroup have been working directly with a number of Central Valley dairy silage producers and together they have learned how to most effectively and successfully adopt a variety of CT practices for silage production. During this time, there have been considerable gains in the overall knowledge base that is needed for successful and sustained CT silage management. There is now also a decent experience base that can help new CT farmers avoid problems and mistakes that can lead to trouble.
Through an NRCS Conservation Innovation Grant program called the “BMP CT Challenge,” dairy silage producers once again have an opportunity this year to gain experience with CT systems, to work with CT advisors, to borrow CT equipment and to secure risk management support if CT test strip yields are lower than standard till yields.
For more information and to take part in one of our workgroup’s upcoming dairy silage breakfast meetings in your region, please give any of the following folks a call or send an e-mail to them at the addresses indicated below.
(559) 252-2192 Ext. 121
California’s Conservation Tillage and Cropping Systems Workgroup will once again maintain a site at the 2011 World Ag Expo coming up February 8-10 in Tulare. The workgroup booth will be at site M-52, which is about 30 yards due south of the main North Gate 6 entrance.
This year, we will be providing a series of live presentations on various aspects of conservation agriculture through much of each day in addition to our other information offerings.
- Local workgroup farmer members Jesse Sanchez, Tom Barcellos, Dino Giacomazzi, and Scott Schmidt talking about their CT and irrigation systems
- NRCS conservationists providing information on available USDA programs that support conservation agriculture systems and practices
- UCCE advisor Dan Munk sharing information about CT cotton
- UCCE advisor advisor Gene Miyao talking about cover crops in tomato systems
- UC Davis soil science professor Will Horwath talking about soil carbon and GHG’s
- Ladi Asgill and Ron Harben discussing conservation agricultural systems related to production and business models
- Jerry Rossiter discussing overhead, mechanized irrigation systems.
The presentations will start at 10 a.m. each day and cycle through the day at the M-52 Workgroup tent.
For more information, contact Jeff Mitchell at (559) 303-9689 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
California’s Conservation Tillage and Cropping Systems Workgroup will present educational tours and programs at three locations in California March 9-11 to convey information on innovative conservation tillage crop production systems that are being developed in irrigated regions of South Dakota, Nebraska, Colorado and Washington.
In addition to sharing information about the conservation cropping systems in these states, the speakers will discuss how the principles and practices can be implemented on California farms.
The first conference will be held March 9 at the UC Davis Western Center for Agricultural Equipment. The second meeting convenes on March 10 at the SCE Ag-TAC facility in Tulare and continues in the afternoon with tours of three Central Valley farms. The final session is March 11 at the UC West Side Research and Extension Center in Five Points. The presentations at the three locations will be the same. There is no registration fee and no pre-registration necessary.
The three featured speakers, all national leaders in the practice of conservation tillage, are:
- Dwayne Beck, manager of the Dakota Lakes Research Farm in Pierre, South Dakota. Beck has been inducted into South Dakota’s Hall of Fame for introducing cost-saving conservation tillage practices to the region’s agricultural industry when, in the early 1990s, farms were closing due to a lack of economic viability.
- Mike Peterson, retired USDA NRCS Conservationist and currently the California precision tillage specialist for Orthman Mfg. Throughout his career, Peterson has researched and developed information on strip-till approaches.
- Andy McGuire, cropping systems advisor with Washington State University in Moses Lake, Washington. McGuire has been working to evaluate and develop high-residue cropping systems for the irrigated crops of the Central Washington region.
“The main reason we invited these out-of-state experts is to learn how the conservation tillage systems they have developed relate to California,” said Jeff Mitchell, UC Davis Cooperative Extension cropping systems specialist and coordinator of the conference. “All of them come from areas where farmers practice irrigated agriculture. We are planning to very thoroughly and thoughtfully consider with them, through a series of dialogues and discussion, the relevance and application of their work on farms in California.”
Conservation agriculture systems reduce overall tillage or soil disturbance, maintain surface residues, seek make production systems more efficient, and reduce costs. Speakers will address the integrated management of the conservation production systems.
March 9, 12 noon to 4 p.m.: UC Davis Western Center for Agricultural Equipment, off Hutchison on Hills Drive, just west of 113.
March 10, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.: Southern California Edison AgTAC, 4175 S. Laspina St., Tulare, Calif.
March 11, 9 a.m. to 12 noon: UC Westside Research and Extension Center, 17252 W. Oakland Ave., Five Points, Calif.
For additional information on these conferences see the Conservation Tillage and Cropping Systems Workgroup website or contact Mitchell at email@example.com, (559) 646-6565.
National No-till Farmer magazine has published an article by a member of the UC Conservation Tillage and Cropping Systems Workgroup, Michael Crowell.
The Crowell family has been in the dairy business in Turlock for more than 100 years. Currently, Crowell's son Adam manages Bar-Vee Dairy and milks about 700 cows. The family raises their own heifers, so in all the herd is about 1,400 head.
One way the Crowells have dealt with dairy industry volatility is growing as much of their own forage as possible. In his article, Crowell said no-till farming has allowed the family to produce three high-quality forage crops per year.
Crowell began no-till farming six years ago.
"Once I started no-tilling I’ve never missed a single National No-Tillage Conference, I read magazines and get hands-on advice from my University of California-Davis extension contact, Jeff Mitchell," Crowell wrote.