As more citizens and farmers become aware of practices that contribute to, or reduce our carbon footprint, there are many information sources that can advise one on what the best practice on their land may be. However, conflicting practices are starting to arise.
Postings on the Ontario Farmer website seem to contradict each other slightly as far as practices that would benefit the health and richness of the soil, versus practices that keep pathogens out of the soil and out of our water supply.
A farmer in Idaho believes that he saves thousands of tons of carbon from being released to the atmosphere by sequestering it in the soil. Carbon sequestration involves the storage of organic carbon in the soil. Carbon sequestration occurs more readily when the soil profile is not disturbed. One of the best management practices to allow carbon to store in the soil is to employ a no-till practice on managed land. It has been shown that land that is tilled releases stored carbon into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide contributing to the greenhouse gasses present in the atmosphere. Therefore, no-till land management has its benefits.
On the other hand, a soil microbiologist from Ohio State University has demonstrated that a soil pathogen can travel, and sustain itself better in soils that are not tilled. The danger of this is that the pathogen can be carried into runoff water via drainage tiles, which threatens our water sources. The pathogen that is most concerning is Cryptosporidiosis, caused by Cryptosporidium, which is a waterborne disease that can cause intestinal illness in humans. Therefore the researcher suggests that light tilling is the best practice to disturb this pathogen and protect our drinking water sources.
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