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In the middle of a very hot and dry summer, such as occurred in many areas during 2013, no-tillers quickly recognize the residue covering the soil is normally cooler and wetter than with soils found in conventionally-tilled fields. They recognize that reducing stress on their no-tilled crops is a major benefit when summer weather turns hot and dry.
With all of the hoopla about hotter weather coming over the next 50 years, a recent study indicates no-till will help growers salvage some of the predicted yield losses, while being able to more efficiently deal with declining water supplies.
That’s one finding from an innovative Agricultural Research Service study that combined climate projections with 15 to 17 years of field crop data from the Central Great Plains Research Station in Akron, Colo.
Laj Ahuja and other U.S. Department of Agriculture researchers found no-till can help offset wheat, corn and millet yield losses due to hotter temperatures and higher levels of carbon dioxide that will likely occur over the next 36 years.
Three crop rotations — wheat-fallow, wheat-corn-fallow, and wheat-corn-millet — were evaluated to see how yields might be affected. The scientists looked at rising carbon dioxide levels, increasing temperatures and a shift in precipitation from late spring and summer to fall and winter. The results indicate:
An increase in atmospheric carbon-dioxide levels from 380 parts per million by volume in 2005 to 550 parts per million in 2050.
An estimated 5-degree F increase in summer temperatures between 2005…