SEATTLE, Aug. 13 (UPI) -- A U.S. study suggests traditional plow-based agriculture and the need to feed a rapidly growing world population are depleting the Earth's soil supply.
The University of Washington study, led by Professor David Montgomery, also found other long-established practices appear to increase soil erosion to the point that it is not offset by soil creation.
The researchers found no-till agriculture, in which crop stubble is mixed with the top layer of soil using a method called disking, is far more sustainable.
"Soil loss through conventional agriculture is in a range of 10 to 100 times greater than the rate at which soil is created," said Montgomery. "No-till agriculture brings it into the ballpark, surprisingly close to being balanced with soil creation."
Montgomery and colleagues looked at data from more than 1,650 measurements published in more than 200 studies examining various aspects of farming practices, soil creation and erosion. The team's findings are to appear later this year in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.