Many of the cultural practices used in crop production have huge effects on the soil, its structure and its biological life. Tillage breaks up soil structure, destroys soil biological life, buries residue cover, and reduces soil moisture.
As such, soil health and soil tilth improve as tillage becomes less intensive. Mother Nature never tilled the soils and a diverse soil system developed, yet man feels that tillage is necessary. By learning more about the soil system and water management, producers can improve productivity and profitability by building a better soil system.
Corrective crop management practices have focused primarily on the obvious above-ground symptoms and problems. Research, however, has discovered that what appear to be subtle differences below the soil surface may have profound effects on productivity and sustainability.
Producers must manage their tillage systems, crops and residues to build healthier soils with improved structure to better manage water resources. Improving soil structure and biological activity while maintaining residue cover will reduce runoff, erosion, evaporative losses and the related environmental impacts.