Conservation tillage is defined as any tillage or planting system in which more than 30% of the soil surface is covered with crop residues after planting.
Conservation tillage reduces soil erosion and provides material for biological tillage, which builds up soil biodiversity and organic matter that, in turn, stabilizes the soil structure and improves water infiltration. Its benefits are not only in production, through improved yields and lower maintenance requirements for farm equipment, but also to the wider environment through improved water quality owing to less erosion and more regular flow of streams from better infiltration and soil moisture storage and reduced losses of applied inputs in run-off. Conservation tillage results in 70% less herbicide run-off, 93% less erosion and 69% less water run-off as compared with mould-board or disc-ploughing. There is also reduced release of carbon gases and reduced air pollution.
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