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Peter Donovan
crop residue protects soil

Several newer farming systems seek to minimize cropland erosion by keeping soil covered and organic matter high. Methods include no-till, Permaculture, and Natural Systems Agriculture.

After 15 years of no-till, Tim Melville's irrigated ground in eastern Oregon absorbs 12 times more water than under conventional management. Crop residue protects the soil surface from erosion and evaporation.

In the early 1980s, Tim plowed one field and direct-seeded an adjacent field without tilling it. In June, a thunderstorm dropped 130-150 mm (5-6") of rain and hail in 30 minutes. "It washed nearly all the topsoil off the plowed field, and down the canyon," says Tim. "We lost six inches of topsoil." There was no damage to the field that had not been tilled.

Article about Tim Melville's no-till experiences, on website.