Crop residue removal and tillage - Effects on soil erosion and nutrient loss in the corn belt
Lindstrom, M.J.; Gupta, S.C.; Onstad, C.A.; Holt, R.F.; Larson, W.E.
Agriculture Information Bulletin 442
Soil erosion in the United States is occurring at a rate of about twice the tolerance limit established by the Soil Conservation Service. If no conservation practices are used, the rate of soil erosion would increase by about 33 percent. Crop residue removal for alternative use may intensify an already serious problem. In this study, we calculated the amounts of crop residues produced in the Corn Belt, the amounts of nutrients contained in the residue, and the effect of crop residue removal on soil erosion. We use the Universal Soil Loss Equation (USLE) and current cropping practices to predict soil erosion for five residue and tillage management systems to determine the amounts of residue that can be removed from the major land resource areas (MLRA) in the Corn Belt without undue damage to the soil. Results from this study identify areas where crop residues feasibly may be removed for alternative use and also identify areas where crop residue in conjunction with conservation tillage systems is necessary to maintain soil erosion losses within tolerance limits.