If you have been reading my blog for a while, the title of this post might not surprise you. But that's not to say the title won't make you go, "Say what??"
Just briefly, a single horizontal tillage pass is when a cultivation tool is used in a field in such a manner that several layers of soil are disturbed, and in a manner that affects those layers horizontally. (You may have to take a moment to visualize what I am describing.)
Okay, so then what is significant about "a single horizontal tillage pass"? Well, recently a report was published with this title - "Study finds a single horizontal tillage pass significantly reduced water infiltration", water infiltration meaning the amount of water that penetrates the soil and gets to where crops need it, in the layers beneath the ground.
So, today's post is about one of Growing Hope's favorite banner topics - no-till. And, I f you are so inclined to read the entire study, which has many more details than I am going to cite here, the article can be found online by searching the following: "It doesn't take much to ruin no-till." The article is dated Sept. 24, 2016, on the agweb.com website. For my purposes today, I am merely going to share with you the general findings of the study, which are really rather amazing.
First of all, something you certainly already know - the amount of rainfall, and the soil's water-holding capacity, are two of the main factors that impact crop yield. Rain needs to get to the crop's root zone. If it can't get there, it will negatively impact the yield of the crop. This is why water infiltration is critical.
The place where the study was conducted had an average rainfall over the last 30 years of 24.28". They then concluded that if the soil's infiltration rate is 3" per hour, the soil can capture 75% of that annual rainfall. But, if a soil layer, that has been created through horizontal tillage, restricts the soil's ability to absorb that rainfall, and the infiltration rate drops to a little less than 2" per hour, then less than 50% of that annual rainfall is utilized by the crop.
The difference in the amount of water that infiltrates the soil is around 6.8" of water for the crop. Do you want to know what difference that can mean for yields? Sixty bushels of corn per acre. Gulp! That is crazy!!
As for the rain that does not penetrate the soil, you know where that goes, right? Into the drainage ditch; beautiful topsoil washing down to the Gulf of Mexico.
Do we seem biased about no-till? I guess it's findings such as this which keep convincing us that it's the right way to go.
Have a great day, my friends!