No-Till Cover Crops

  • Rye cover crop

Adoption of No-Till and Cover Crops Shifts The Carbon Balance

Researchers have found that converting a conventionally tilled field to a management system of planting cover crops and not tilling the soil improves the soil’s carbon balance with only minimal impact on the water balance. Conventionally tilled corn-soybean fields have a negative carbon balance, but reducing tillage and adding a cover crop shifts the carbon balance to a positive net ecosystem productivity.

Researchers at the ARS National Laboratory for Agriculture and the Environment in Ames, IA, found that reduced soil disturbance is primarily responsible for the change. After 2 years of using cover crops and no tilling, microbial biomass doubled in the upper 15 cm of the soil. Understanding the coupling of carbon and water in agricultural systems helps quantify the effects from changes in agricultural management, which provides producers with information on soil management practices that will enhance their soil and increase productivity.

Explore Other Discoveries

Tung tree fruit, seeds, and oil.
Diesel Fuel Gets A Boost From Tung Oil

ARS scientists successfully used tung oil as the starting material for a new additive to improve the performance of diesel fuel.

Read More
Cars on a freeway
Better Grass For Cattle And Cars

Scientists are looking into how they can improve upon the grass cattle put in their bellies and you put in your tank.

Read More
ARS technicians prepare a flume for monitoring runoff from the Walnut Gulch Experimental Watershed.
Better Forecasting To Help Agriculture

ARS researchers helped the United Kingdom improve the accuracy of its widely used weather-forecasting models.

Read More
Cattle in a field
Adjusting Cattle Grazing Schedules

Researchers discovered that sending cattle to feedlots earlier than the traditional timing of October may provide a two- fold benefit.

Read More
Keep Carbon In Soil, Out Of Atmosphere

Restoring rangelands to a healthy mix of plants increases the productivity and sustainability of agriculture.

Read More
Cattle in a field
Manuresheds Combat Nutrient Pollution

Promoting “manuresheds” to combat nutrient pollution while taking advantage of manure’s productive uses.

Read More
A black cow and a brown cow
Livestock Fight Against Wildfires

Investigating the effects of land use management practices on wildfires as part of USDA’s LTAR program

Read More