Variable tillage intensity effects on carbon budget and sequestration

One of two fields under study in Franklin County Ohio for this project. Photo courtesy Klaus Lorenz.

The Lal Carbon Center launches a new project with CNH Industrial

The Lal Carbon Center is proud to announce a new project with CNH Industrial started in 2023 and led by Principal Investigator Rattan Lal, Co-PI Klaus Lorenz. The research project, Variable Tillage Intensity Effects on Carbon Budget/ Sequestration, focuses on the impact of varying tillage intensities on soil organic carbon (SOC) stocks and other soil properties, greenhouse gas fluxes, and crop yields. Specifically, the aim is to bridge knowledge gaps regarding the effect of tillage equipment gang angles (tillage intensity) on these properties. Traditional tillage practices often lead to SOC loss by affecting soil structure and aeration, while no-till methods show potential for reducing the SOC loss. However, implementing no-till universally remains challenging, prompting the need for adjusted tillage intensities tailored to specific conditions.

The study aims to investigate the effects of tillage equipment differing in gang angles, strip-till and no-till, across a four-year cropping cycle. It assesses various soil health parameters, crop yield factors, and greenhouse gas fluxes. Tillage treatment experiments have been established at two field sites differing in drainage intensity in Ohio, and this will be studied from 2023 to 2027. 

Providing data about variables effecting tillage intensity to producers based on farm field-scale and plot-scale trials will increase the confidence of producers in the efficacy of tillage tools for preparing the desired seedbed quality and obtain the optimal crop productivity while reducing impacts on SOC sequestration. The project aims to provide crucial insights for growers to generate guidelines for improved sustainability and productivity in farming practices.