Myths and facts about residue breakdown
The use of tillage or N application to increase residue decomposition can be counterproductive from economic and environmental perspectives. From an economic perspective, both options of management can add additional cost to the management input in terms of materials, time, labor, fuel, and equipment costs. Environmentally, both tillage and N application are not very sustainable practices; tillage can contribute to soil health and water quality deterioration by increasing soil erosion potential, sediment loss and water quality degradation, as do N applications, where no growing plant can utilize it. Our research and many other studies do not support such practices regardless of the justification or claims that propose tillage equipment can manage residue. Disturbing the soil does not constitute an improvement in soil quality nor increase in residue decomposition. Residue decomposition is controlled by biological processes that are influenced by environmental and soil conditions.
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