The effects of conservation tillage on soil erosion, soil properties, water quality, aquatic ecosystems and terrestrial wildlife are discussed. It is concluded that the environmental benefits of conservation tillage are more extensive than simply reducing erosion. Conservation tillage can increase soil organic matter, improve soil structure and sequestering carbon dioxide, and reduce potential for global warming. Because soil structure is improved, surface residue slows water runoff, more water infiltrates, reducing runoff of contaminants to surface water and returning the water cycle to a more natural state. Reductions in sedimentation and nutrient runoff benefit aquatic ecosystems. Terrestrial species benefit from greater cover, greater food sources in the form of weed seeds, water grain and insects, and from fewer disruptive field operations.
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