Does No-Till Result in Higher Nutrient Loss?

No-till methods reduce soil erosion, but is there an increase in nutrient loss due to lack of fertilizer incorporation? An article published earlier this June by researchers with the USDA Agriculture Research Service (ARS) in the Soil Science Society of America Journal sought to deal with the above (hypothesized) conundrum. Why does nutrient loss matter? It matters to farmers who want those nutrients to stay on or in their soil and fertilize their crops. Moreover, nutrient loss from agricultural systems can result in harmful algal blooms which damage the ecosystems in watersheds connected to farmland. What did the researchers find? Lack of fertilizer incorporation in no-till systems, on average, did not result in markedly higher nutrient runoff than in conventional tillage systems. Rather, “Nutrient loss in surface runoff is highly dependent on runoff timing relative to nutrient application.” Thus “losses varied greatly from year-to-year for all tillage practices.” Moreover, “for the soil types investigated and fertilization regimes used, no-till did not have a greater impact on surface water quality than chisel tillage where nutrient stratification should have been less pronounced. This suggests that farmers with properly managed no-till crops should not have to occasionally till to incorporate fertilizers to reduce nutrient losses in surface runoff.”

This study seems to apply most to row crop farmers, so this might not be of great interest to vegetable farmers, orchardists, or livestock farmers. But anyone interested in soil conservation, soil management techniques and the health of ecosystems may want to take note. The researchers compared three different systems, one of which employed significantly less inputs and relied largely on manure and red clover to supply nutrients; thus, this study may be of interest to organic farmers or farmers interested in a low-input approach.

To learn more about this study and to dig into the details, the full article is available here for free. A summary of this research was published at

4 Comments on Does No-Till Result in Higher Nutrient Loss?

  1. I do trust all the ideas you’ve offered for your post.
    They are very convincing and will certainly work. Nonetheless, the posts are very short for beginners.

    May you please extend them a little from next time?
    Thanks for the post.

  2. Admiring the commitment you put into your blog and in depth information you present.

    It’s good to come across a blog every once in a while
    that isn’t the same outdated rehashed material.
    Fantastic read! I’ve bookmarked your site and I’m including your RSS feeds to my
    Google account.

  3. He said the major networks had him in a television show and
    he didn’t agree that if your wife cheats on you, you
    don’t drink a beer and live happily ever after. I was reading ‘Think
    & Grow Rich’ and they were talking about this great ruler.
    ‘ They include, Matt Smiley (Director), Carly Pope (Producer), Brandon Lott
    (Editor), Nathan Fillion (Narrator) from ABC-TV’s ‘Castle’,
    Luis Felipe Fernndez-Salvador y Campodonico (Executive

  4. Tremendo este post Otra vez este poxt sigue mejorando

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.