The Effect of Mechanical Cultivation on Soil Degradation

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Keen B.A
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Because power-drawn implements work deeper than hand tools it is natural to assume they may cause more soil degradation. A 9" depth of loose, fine soil should suffer more from wind and water erosion than a 2" layer, and it should also lose, by oxidation, more of the soil organic matter annd hence its structure should deteriorate. Conversely, the deeper-tilled oil should provide a better seed bed, a greater root-range, and hence larger crops, and ultimately more soil organic matter from the larger volume of decomposing root material. These statements, and many others, for and against mechanical cultivation, are frequently made, and policies are founded on them. But there is practically no experimental evidence for any of the statements. They have been taken over, as accepted facts, from the great number of traditional beliefs about cultivations and their effects in the agriculture of temperate climates, particularly in Great Britain. But, substantial changes have been made in these beliefs by the results of field and laboratory experiments conducted by the writerand his colleagues at Rothamsted during the past twenty years (6).
East African Agricultural And Forestry Journal, p. 2004-2009