“We’re keeping our soil in place, not only from a wind erosion aspect, but from a water erosion aspect as well. We’re keeping that soil in place, we’re keeping out of our rivers and streams, and our water resources if you will.”
And soil conservation is essential for the future of agriculture. Robert Lemon is an extension agronomist.
“We know what our economic input costs are generally. We know what it costs to put fertilizer out. We know what it costs for pesticides. We know what it costs for our seeds. When we talk about the value of our soil, our primary resource for our country in terms of our food and fiber systems, to me it’s almost priceless. It’s hard to put a value on that.”
After an extremely dry fall, local farmers are concerned about receiving adequate rainfall this spring. Reduced tillage with residue left on the soil is a good water conservation tool.
“When we’re in really dry seasons, a producer that may be in a reduced tillage system will have an opportunity to get his crop up, where a producer that’s in a conventional system may not, because he’s disturbed that soil, and he’s lost that planting moisture in the surface, and I’ve seen this many times, where grower in a reduced tillage setting has got the crop in the ground, and the crop up, when the other producer is still waiting for a rain.”
About 60% of cotton acreage across the U.S. is in some form of reduced tillage system.
“When you look at where we are today, and that fuel, not only diesel to run those tractors, but the fuel it’s going to take to get that water and pump it out of the ground, and apply that to an irrigated setting, it’s still going to be money in his pocket if he’s involved in a reduced tillage system.”
And that, Dr. Lemon believes, will cause the majority of farmers to adapt to some sort of reduced tillage system in the not to distant future, making it a win/win for agriculture and the environment.