Agricultural Management Practices to Sustain Crop Yields and Improve Soil and Environmental Qualities
Increasing crop production to feed the growing population was a major challenge to the agricultural community in the past few decades. As a result, management practices consisting of intensive tillage and high rate of fertilization were used to increase crop production. While these practices increased crop production by severalfold compared with less intensive tillage and no fertilization, little attention was paid to maintaining soil and environmental qualities. Tillage increased soil erosion and organic matter oxidation, thereby decreasing soil fertility and increasing soil and nutrient losses through runoff and leaching. This practice also caused the contamination of the surface and groundwater and increased the amount of sediments in streams and lakes.