In our first Merit or Myth season, we discussed the issue of no-till in the context of residue management, soil water (mainly infiltration), soil temperature, weeds and economics. In reality, a companion between no-till an conventional till system is very difficult to compare is one only looks at one factor (e.g., residue). When we spoke to Dr. Randy Anderson (ARS, Brookings), he spoke of the systems synergy effect where if one stacked one practice on another (e.g., no-till, diverse rotations, cover crops), the sum of the good effects were actually greater than the individual parts.
In our second Merit or Myth season, we will try to look at whole systems, first by speaking to practitioners (e.g., NRCS’s Jeff Hemenway) and researchers (e.g., Dr. Mike Lehman from Brookings ARS) who will apply the science and demonstrate that soils are living dynamic ecosystems (as opposed to a medium to grow plants). We will also be speaking to farmers who mimic nature though multiple tools that include no-till, cover crops, diverse rotations and the use of animals in the system – we’ll tap into their knowledge and experience based on what they see and how they have been able to innovate.
Some useful references to works related to this subject, written by Dr. Anderson and Dr. Lehman are provided below:
Anderson, R. L. 2005. Are Some Crops Synergistic to Following Crops?. Agron. J. 97:7-10. doi:10.2134/agronj2005.0007
Anderson, R. L. 2005. A Multi-Tactic Approach to Manage Weed Population Dynamics in Crop Rotations. Agron. J. 97:1579-1583. doi:10.2134/agronj2005.0194
Anderson, R.L. 2011. Synergism: A rotation effect of improved growth efficiency. Adv. Agron. 2011, 112, 205–226.
Lehman RM, Cambardella CA, Stott DE, Acosta-Martinez V, Manter DK, Buyer JS, Maul JE, Smith JL, Collins HP, Halvorson JJ, Kremer RJ, Lundgren JG, Ducey TF, Lin VL, Karlen DL. 2015 Understanding and enhancing soil biological health: The solution to reversing soil degradation. Sustainability 7, 988–1027.
Lehman RM, Acosta-Martinez V, Buyer JS, Cambardella CA, Collins HP, Ducey TF, Halvorson JJ, Jin VL, Johnson JMF, Kremer RJ, Lundgren JG, Manter DK, Maul JE, Smith JL, Stott DE. 2015. Soil biology for resilient, healthy soil. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation 70, 12A–18A.