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Fluid Journal : Fluid Journal 1999-2001
2 Fluid Journal Summer 1999 productivity will decrease---yields can drop 5 to 10 percent? Simple mathematics When a farmer burns his crop residue he has, in effect, reversed the process of photosynthesis, turning combined carbon back into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide gas. When he bales it all, he forfeits the opportunity of allowing soil micro-organisms to turn carbon into a stable organic fraction in the soil and build soil productivity. Actually, the process is similar to the digestion of residue in the rumens of livestock, where the residue would go if he baled it all. In Table 1, approximate analysis in an Iowa soil shows that not only nitrogen, but phosphorus and sulfur are necessary for the efficient conversion of residue into stable organic matter. Notice next in Table 2 how a 200-bu/A corn crop will not only produce 4.7 tons/ A of dried grain (0% moisture) but also 4.7 tons/A of stalks and leaves, and 2.4 tons/A of roots. Properly managing and supplying this 7.1 tons/A of residue with sufficient nutrients could result in soil organic matter increasing by 1.8 tons/A. This would raise the soil test level in the 0 to 6-inch zone by .18 percent per year! If deep tillage can move this newly formed organic matter into the deep profile, it will be possible to build a productive soil 15 to 18 inches deep, making possible extremely high yields. The entire process is called a term that is becoming increasingly familiar: maximizing soil productivity (MSP) to maximize yields. An informational packet is available through the FFF office, 785/ 776-0273.
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