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WITH THE CLIMATE becoming warmer, no-tillers are in a much better position to turn limited amounts of rainfall into higher yields than neighbors who are still using intensive tillage. By keeping the soil covered with crop residue and with the additional benefits of cover crops, no-tillers are retaining much more water in their fields.
Jim Hoorman points out that the amount of water your soils can hold is highly dependent on both soil organic matter and soil texture, both of which improve with no-till.
The owner of Hoorman Soil Health Services in Jenera, Ohio, says the improvement in bulk density that growers normally see in no-tilled soils dramatically increases water storage, especially since about 50% of the volume in an ideal soil consists of pore space where water is stored. Under an intensive tillage situation, pore space in a compacted soil may decrease by 20-30% and hold much less water. With serious hard pan issues in tilled fields, plant roots may not be able to access most of the available water in a soil.
“Increasing the amount of soil organic matter such as is the case with no-till improves the soil structure to allow more water to be stored and accessed by plant roots,”…