How much of America's croplands are being farmed using conservation tillage? Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists are developing techniques to use satellites to answer that question.

The ARS scientists-research agronomist Craig Daughtry and agricultural meteorologist Paul Doraiswamy-are also studying satellite sensors and geographic information systems (GIS) technology to identify farm fields that can sustain more residue removal for ethanol production without harm to the soil. Daughtry and Doraiswamy work at the ARS Hydrology and Remote Sensing Laboratory in Beltsville, Md.

Conservation tillage leaves enough crop residue to cover at least one-third of the soil, while conventional tillage leaves the soil nearly bare.

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Source: ARS