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Sustainable Agriculture

Conservation Tillage Systems

Conservation tillage systems are an approach that builds the soil organic matter; thereby increasing and improving other aspects of a healthy soil.  The conservation tillage system is generally thought of as beginning with a good cover crop that is planted in fallow times of the year.  For example, for cotton, a winter cover crop (rye as an example) would be planted during the winter and killed prior to planting the cotton.  During the planting operation for the cotton, there would be limited tillage occurring.  This limited tillage reduces the amount of disturbed soil.  After harvest of the cotton, a winter cover would be planted and killed prior to the next year's summer crop.  As this process continues over time, the residue resulting from the winter cover crops builds the soil organic matter which leads to increased water infiltration, reduced erosion and runoff, increased soil microorganisms, and other benefits.