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Study highlights no-till benefits

WASHINGTON, March 8 (UPI) -- A study of wheat farmers using no-till production found erosion decreased while water quality protection increased, the U.S. Agriculture Department said.

The study compared runoff, soil erosion and crop yields in a conventional, heavily tilled winter wheat-fallow system and a no-till, four-year cropping rotation system, the department's Agricultural Research Service said Tuesday in the release.

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The scientists measured runoff and sediment at the mouth of each drainage channel in the study area in the Pacific Northwest after nearly every rainfall from 2001 to 2004. Scientists said they found 13 rainfalls generated erosion from conventionally tilled fields, but only three rainfalls resulted in erosion from no-till fields.

They also noted 70 percent more runoff and 52 times more eroded material escaped from the conventionally tilled fields than from the no-till fields.

No-till production left soil surface intact and protected pore space beneath the soil surface, allowing more water to soak into the subsoil, the research indicated. Scientists said they also found no significant yield difference between the two production methods, and that direct seeding in no-till production saved fuel and time.

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