URBANA, IL. – Soil erosion is a major challenge in agricultural production. It affects soil quality and carries nutrient sediments that pollute waterways. While soil erosion is a naturally occurring process, agricultural activities such as conventional tilling exacerbate it. Farmers implementing no-till practices can significantly reduce soil erosion rates, a new University of Illinois study shows.
Completely shifting to no-till would reduce soil loss and sediment yield by more than 70%, says Sanghyun Lee, doctoral student in the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering at U of I and lead author on the study, published in Journal of Environmental Management.
But even a partial change in tilling practices could have significant results, he adds.
“If we focus on the most vulnerable area in terms of soil erosion, then only 40% no-till shows almost the same reduction as 100% no-till implementation,” Lee says.
The study used physical data and computer modeling to estimate soil erosion in the Drummer Creek watershed, which is part of the Upper Sangamon River watershed in Central Illinois.