I am not sure if anyone has written about no till farming practices but I am going to blog about it any way. I figured it would be a good topic to write about since our last section of notes for the 3rd exam incorporated facts on economic effects of soil. Each year the U.S. spends $38 billion on soil erosion each year. A total of $400 billion globally is spent on soil erosion every year. Over the past 40 years, 30% of our arable land has been converted from usable land to unproductive land. All that soil adds up to 37,000 square miles of crop land lost each year, that is a staggering 23,680,000 acres. According to a study in 2006, the U.S. is losing soil up to 10 times faster than it can be naturally replenished. From looking at these staggering statistics, you would think one would be appalled to learn about this. Some people are listening though. Farmers all across the United States have started listening and actually changing their poor habits.
No till practices have been implemented throughout the United States and parts of Canada. There are many reasons to convert your farming practices to no till and many that can possibly dissuade one to change over. For one, money. It is quite expensive to transfer a cropland to no till, but for people in the U.S. and in Canada, money is rewarded. No till practices allow the plant material to be decomposed on top and release nutrients back into the soil. This practice is considered carbon offsetting and is rewarded with money by the Chicago Climate Exchange. The CCE is a voluntary carbon market developed in 2003 in North America. The CCE has created a sort of Carbon Offset Stock Market that allows corporations, governments, or other organizations to buy into. A program like this is great to spread awareness and get funding for environmentally friendly projects.
Although, no till practices are great for reducing erosion and offsetting carbon they do have there drawbacks. Converting land from tradition tillage practices can reduce crop yields and also allow for more weeds to grow. This will enable many to use pesticides and GMO’s to substitute for the change. Hopefully that is not the case. The no till practice will allow the soil to suffer less erosion, be able to obtain more nutrients, hold water, be more aerated from less use of machinery, and also helps reduce labor, fuel, and machinery expenses. Currently, 18% of U.S. cropland and 30% of Canadian cropland is no-till. Near the end of 2004 half of Brazil’s farmland was no-till and in one of Australia’s driest states no-till makes up 92% of the farmland acreage.
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