BLOG: Less Greenhouse Gas From Farming
Another problem was the cost of manure and compost. The bulky fertilizers had to be trucked in at great expense. Not to mention all the fossil fuels burned up in transport.
To avoid those costs, farmers should try to integrate field crops with dairy production, the researchers suggested. A farmer that grew feed grain should either have his own dairy operation, or team up with a neighboring dairy farm. That way the fertilizer for the crops and food for the animals would be near each other. Less distance means less transport costs.
At the bottom line, the researchers didn't see huge differences in profits from reduced tillage or intensive tillage. But there did seem to be a trend towards higher returns from intensive tillage.
The experiment was carried out from 2003 to 2007 in central Pennsylvania. Two fields were used, one with intensive tillage and the other with reduced tillage. Changes in crop yields, weed populations, and economic returns were measured over a three year rotation. From year to year, the crops were switched, or rotated, between corn, soy, and cover crops.