No-till has carbon sequestration potential through storage of soil organic matter in the soil of crop fields. Tilled by machinery, the soil layers invert, air mixes in, and soil microbial activity dramatically increases over baseline levels. The result is that soil organic matter is broken down much more rapidly, and carbon is lost from the soil into the atmosphere. This, in addition to the emissions from the farm equipment itself, increases carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere.
Cropland soils are ideal for use as a carbon sink, since it has been depleted of carbon in most areas. It is estimated that 78 billion metric tonnes of carbon that was trapped in the soil has been released because of tillage. Conventional farming practices that rely on tillage have removed carbon from the soil ecosystem by removing crop residues such as left over corn stalks, and through the addition of chemical fertilizers which have the above mentioned effects on soil microbes.
By eliminating tillage, crop residues decompose where they lie, and by growing winter cover crops, carbon loss can be slowed and eventually reversed. In addition to keeping carbon in the soil, no-till farming reduces nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions by 40-70%, depending on rotation. Nitrous oxide is a potent greenhouse gas that stays in the atmosphere for 120 years.
A farming operation benefits from No-Till farming through continual soil improvement and greater yields. Importantly, the growing recognition by Government of the impact of carbon in the atmosphere is leading to incentives to improve the air carbon balance. Direct tax rebates on the purchase of No-Till farming equipment and the potential for Carbon Credits adds to the case for employing No-Till farming techniques.
A Tobin No-Till Disc Drill will contribute to maintaining healthy soil and a healthy environment.