Submitted to: Encyclopedia of Soils in the Environment
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: April 14, 2004
Publication Date: October 1, 2004
Citation: Reicosky, D.C., Wilts, A.R. 2004. Crop-residue management. In: Hillel, D., editor. Encyclopedia of Soils in the Environment. Vol. 1. Oxford, UK: Elsevier. p. 334-338. Technical Abstract: Our agricultural production system is under increasing pressure to provide low cost, high quality food, fiber and biofuels while maintaining and preserving the environment. Increased interest in crop residues for production system sustainability is related to the recognition that the soil, water and air resources are finite. The objective of this work is to review the complex interaction between soil, crop and climate as they affect crop residue production and management in response to current social mandates to reduce soil erosion and improve environmental quality. Emphasis has been placed on conservation agricultural systems with improved crop residue management that can significantly reduce soil erosion and runoff, enhance moisture retention, enhance nutrient cycling, lower summer soil temperatures, reduce the number of trips across the field, reduce machinery costs and at the same time may increase the net return to the farmer. Our quality of life will improve when crop residue management leads to greater agricultural productivity, improved water and air quality and decreased atmospheric CO2 build-up. Maintaining and managing crop residues in agriculture can be economically beneficial to all of society. Improved residue management and reduced tillage practices should be encouraged because of their beneficial role in reducing soil degradation and increasing soil productivity. Soil carbon sequestration with improved residue management can play a significant role in impacting global climate change. Food security and environmental improvement depend on soil carbon from crop residues, a valuable resource in sustainable agricultural systems.