Conservation tillage, or “no-till” farming, has become increasingly popular as a way to reduce soil erosion, increase organic matter, and enhance soil physical properties. The effect of no-till versus conventional production practices on soil ecology was studied as the initial experiment on the CEFS Conservation Tillage Unit. This experiment ran from 1996 to 2001 and included many major North Carolina crops in the rotation (corn, soybeans, cotton, peanuts, wheat) under the direction of Dr. George Naderman, retired professor of Soil Science at NC State University. Scientists monitored yield and economics, soil quality, nutrients and pesticides in ground water and run-off, and the effect on wildlife. See “Long Term No-Tillage” in the Resources section of this page for a downloadable .pdf version of this report.
The Soil Management Research Group also conducted research on residue management in no- and reduced-tillage systems. See “Notes from the Conservation Tillage Underground” in the Resources section of this page to access reports on their research and additional information on equipment for residue management.
Though the Conservation Tillage Unit does not currently have an active research program, conservation tillage remains an important research topic at CEFS. Conservation tillage is a current component of research on CEFS’ Farming Systems Research Unit.