Crop Residue Decisions Affect Soil Life


In some ways, farming is like cooking.

In some ways, farming is like cooking. Cooking would be much easier if we could leave the kitchen after eating and not come back until we make the next meal. But someone needs to put away the leftovers, do the dishes, and clean up the table.

Similarly, there’s work to do in farm fields after harvest and before planting the next spring.

After harvest in the fall, farmers take the harvested crops to market or store them on their farm. They don’t take the whole plant from the field, though.

The leftover parts of the plant, like the stalk and leaves from corn, remain in the field. This debris is called crop residue.

Using no-till and prescribed fire management are two potential ways to manage crop residue. Both practices help keep organic matter and nitrogen in the soil. However, research was needed to understand how these two practices can affect long-term soil health.

Read more at American Society Of Agronomy

Image: Some farmers leave crop residue in the field after harvest and plant directly into it in the spring. This is called no-till. Credit: Rachel Schutte