1. the mechanical manipulation of the soil

1. Introduction


Much research has been done on agriculture production systems. One such
system is the conventional tillage system. This system is the mechanical
manipulation of the soil by digging and turning of the soil to prepare for
planting. This views the soil as an infinite natural resource.  Much research has proven that long term
tilling of the soil reduces the organic carbon content of the soil (SOCc). The reduction of SOCc in
conventionally tilled soil could be explained by the excessive removal of
biomass after harvest and higher decomposition rate due to increased microbial
activity at the soil surface (R Moussadek, R Mrabet, R Dahan, A Zouahri, M El Mourid, and E Van Ranst).

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There are
environmental and economic problems caused by tilling. Tilled soil is more
aerated causing an increase in soil organisms that feed on the organic matter. Tillage mixes oxygen into the soil and increases the
oxidization of organic matter resulting in the release of carbon dioxide, a gas
linked to global warming(Better soils, better yield). Tilling degrades the soil
structure and makes it prone to erosion. The fast growing world
population demands that we find new ways of fulfilling the increasing food
demand. To achieve this, food security concerns will have to be addressed
through sustainable ways of agricultural production. This paper aims to
highlight the environmental and economic problems caused by tillage.


2. Soil properties










3. Environmental effects of tillage


Intensive tillage
leads to soil erosion. Soil erosion is described as the detachment and movement
of soil particles from point of origination through the action of water and
wind. Wind erosion is the more visible, though water erosion is the most
devastating. The loss of natural nutrients and possible
fertilizers directly affect crop emergence, and growth. Seeds can be disturbed or removed
and pesticides can be carried off. This means fewer nutrients for plants leading to reduced yields. The soil
quality, structure, stability, and texture are also affected, which in
turn affect the holding capacity of
the soil referred to water infiltration rate. This is due to the aggregate break down and a
decrease in soil organic matter. Soil water erosion has great environmental
implications as eroded soils can
inhibit the growth of seeds, bury seedlings, contribute to road damage, and even contaminate water sources.