No-Till Could Save $458 Million

With interest growing in having the government clean up the environment through carbon sequestration and other means, it’s a good time to look at a successful 6-year continuous no-till program that’s working well in Virginia.

Operated by the Colonial Soil & Water Conservation District in Quinton, Va., the program offers farmers a total of $65 per acre over 5 years for intensive cropping rotations that are never tilled. Funding comes from the Commonwealth of Virginia incentive funds to implement continuous no-till and nutrient management technologies to reduce non-point source pollution in rivers, lakes and streams.

Room For No-Till Expansion.

Five years ago, about 5 percent of the farmland within the district was in continuous no-till. That figure jumped to nearly 75 percent of cropped acres in 2001.

A minimum of 90 percent biomass cover must be maintained for 5 years on a minimum of 90 percent of the enrolled acres. There is a cap of $20,000 per individual or corporation.

“The data shows this practice stands alone in non-point source pollution reduction cost effectiveness,” says Bryan Noyes, conservation specialist for the district. “Many other advantages are associated with this practice, including ground water recharge, optimum stream flow, protection of continuous wildlife habitat, flood control and agricultural sustainability.

“We’re convinced that the dynamics of soil quality will provide unprecedented benefits far beyond our current comprehension.”

Rainfall Simulation Shows No-Till Benefits.

The district last summer analyzed sediment runoff with a rainfall simulator. There was a loss of 1 1/2 tons per acre…

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