Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New farming strategies can help prevent soil runoff while maintaining high crop yields

01.07.2016

Soil and nutrient loss and runoff from agricultural fields are major problems environmentally and economically in the U.S. and globally. After heavy spring rains, soil and water runoff containing fertilizer and pesticides is washed downstream, carrying the sediment and chemicals to the Gulf of Mexico.

This process creates a large oxygen-starved area which is toxic to aquatic organisms and damages the commercial fishing and tourism industries. Tree-based buffers are an effective method for preventing runoff, however they can negatively affect crop yields. Based on years of research, University of Missouri scientists suggest farmers use buffers between crops and trees; this technique reduces soil runoff and maintains good growing conditions, creating economic benefits for farmers and, ultimately, for society in general.


Soil and nutrient loss and runoff from agricultural fields are major problems environmentally and economically in the US and globally. After heavy spring rains, soil and water runoff containing fertilizer and pesticides is washed downstream, carrying the sediment and chemicals to the Gulf of Mexico. This process creates a large oxygen-starved area which is toxic to aquatic organisms and damages the commercial fishing and tourism industries. Tree-based buffers are an effective method for preventing runoff, however they can negatively affect crop yields. Based on years of research, University of Missouri scientists suggest farmers use buffers between crops and trees; this technique reduces soil runoff and maintains good growing conditions, creating economic benefits for farmers and, ultimately, for society in general.

Credit: MU News Bureau

It is clear that tree-based buffers are an effective method to prevent soil runoff and can be an important strategy to protect farmland and downstream ecology and water quality," lead researcher Ranjith Udawatta said. "Finding the best ways to use tree buffers effectively while still maintaining high crop yields is imperative for the long-term success of the agricultural economy."

For their most recent study, Udawatta, an associate research professor in the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources and the MU Center for Agroforestry, led a team of researchers who tested different strategies for preventing soil runoff. These strategies featured different combinations of crops, trees, buffer zones where tree roots were cut to prevent expansion into the crop areas, and sections of Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) land. CRP is a federal program that encourages farmers to convert highly erodible cropland and other environmentally sensitive acreage to vegetative cover, such as native grasses, wildlife plantings, trees, filter strips, or riparian buffers.

The researchers found that the most effective tactic was to utilize CRP strategically to create buffers between the trees and crops depending on the size of the trees. For example, for trees 20 feet high, Udawatta recommends a buffer of CRP land at least six to nine feet wide before planting corn.

"We found tree buffers along streams and waterways hurt crop growth in two ways," Udawatta said. "The shade from the tall trees prevents sunlight from reaching the crops, and the trees win the competition for water, as their roots reach much wider and deeper. Cutting the tree roots alone doesn't work, as the shade from the trees still reduces crop yields adjacent to the trees."

Although being planted next to trees reduces corn yields, Udawatta did find that soybeans seemed unaffected by the trees. He suggests farmers plant soybeans next to tree buffers if they do not have enough land to plant into CRP.

The study, "Yield Differences Influenced by Distance from Riparian Buffers and Conservation Reserve Program," was coauthored by Clark Gantzer, Tim Reinbott, Ray Wright, and Robert Pierce II and was published in Agronomy Journal in 2016.

Media Contact

Nathan Hurst
hurstn@missouri.edu
573-882-6217

 @mizzounews

http://www.missouri.edu 

Nathan Hurst | EurekAlert!

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht How much drought can a forest take?
20.01.2017 | University of California - Davis

nachricht Plasma-zapping process could yield trans fat-free soybean oil product
02.12.2016 | Purdue University

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Helmholtz International Fellow Award for Sarah Amalia Teichmann

20.01.2017 | Awards Funding

An innovative high-performance material: biofibers made from green lacewing silk

20.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Ion treatments for cardiac arrhythmia — Non-invasive alternative to catheter-based surgery

20.01.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>