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Tillage and the environment in sub-tropical Australia-Tradeoffs and challenges

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Silburn, D.M., Freebairn, D.M. and Rattray, D.J. (2007) Tillage and the environment in sub-tropical Australia-Tradeoffs and challenges. Soil and Tillage Research, 97 (2). pp. 306-317.

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Article Link: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.still.2007.09.009

Publisher URL: http://www.elsevier.com


Tillage is defined here in a broad sense, including disturbance of the soil and crop residues, wheel traffic and sowing opportunities. In sub-tropical, semi-arid cropping areas in Australia, tillage systems have evolved from intensively tilled bare fallow systems, with high soil losses, to reduced and no tillage systems. In recent years, the use of controlled traffic has also increased. These conservation tillage systems are successful in reducing water erosion of soil and sediment-bound chemicals. Control of runoff of dissolved nutrients and weakly sorbed chemicals is less certain. Adoption of new practices appears to have been related to practical and economic considerations, and proved to be more profitable after a considerable period of research and development. However there are still challenges. One challenge is to ensure that systems that reduce soil erosion, which may involve greater use of chemicals, do not degrade water quality in streams. Another challenge is to ensure that systems that improve water entry do not increase drainage below the crop root zone, which would increase the risk of salinity. Better understanding of how tillage practices influence soil hydrology, runoff and erosion processes should lead to better tillage systems and enable better management of risks to water quality and soil health. Finally, the need to determine the effectiveness of in-field management practices in achieving stream water quality targets in large, multi-land use catchments will challenge our current knowledge base and the tools available.

Item Type:Article
Additional Information:© Elsevier B.V.
Keywords:Runoff; erosion; water quality; pesticides; deep drainage; salinity.
Subjects:Agriculture > Agriculture (General) > Soil conservation and protection
Agriculture > Agriculture (General) > Methods and systems of culture. Cropping systems
Agriculture > Agriculture (General) > Soils. Soil science
Live Archive:12 Jan 2009 05:53
Last Modified:03 Sep 2021 16:47

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