No-till Farming Could Reduce Carbon Emissions
We think of carbon emissions coming from cars and smokestacks – and they do – but we rarely think of farmland as contributing to climate change. But agriculture accounts for 26 percent of global emissions, from tractor fumes to nitrous oxide fertilisers; just tilling soil exposes carbon buried in the soil to oxygen in the air, allowing microbes to convert it to CO₂. Farmers usually do this before sowing crops, but what if they could avoid this step?
Newly published research from farms across the UK found that no-till farming, which does not disturb soils and instead involves placing seeds in drilled holes in the earth, could slash greenhouse gas emissions from crop production by nearly a third and increase how much carbon soils can store.
In no-till farming, only one machine is needed to drill the small seed holes required and it’s driven over the field just once. Compared to conventional methods where farmers use a range of equipment to till, harrow, sow and firm in the seed, the amount of soil disturbed during no-till farming is very small.
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