Source: USDA's Agricultural Research Service

Crops responded positively to future levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2), but soil tillage practices had little effect on this response, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) study.


The first long-term study comparing tillage practices under high CO2 levels showed that elevated CO2 caused soybean and sorghum plants to increase photosynthesis while reducing transpiration-the amount of water the plants release. This resulted in increased water use efficiency, whether the crops were grown with no-till or conventional tillage, according to researchers with USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS). ARS is USDA's principal intramural scientific research agency. This study supports the USDA priority of responding to climate change.


Plant physiologist Steve Prior, plant pathologist Brett Runion, and their colleagues at the ARS National Soil Dynamics Laboratory in Auburn, Ala., found that water use efficiency response to high CO2 was much greater for soybeans than for sorghum over the 6-year study. 

Original news release