Building soil organic carbon has value to crops
Much of the blame for the past summer's algae bloom in Lake Erie has focused on agriculture. Dan DeSutter, a west central Indiana farmer and 2013 National No-Till Innovator of the Year (from No-Till Farmer magazine), says that crop producers can't afford to wait for research to identify new ways to reduce nutrient loss.
He suggests the following practices for a win-win effect:
Practice no-till to produce a layer of surface carbon residue that protects the soil from erosion under heavy rainfall.
Adopt a “green and growing” goal for as much of the year as possible to convert sunlight to carbon via the root exudate, maintain biological activity and improve the soil structure and aggregate stability.
Keep growing plants for as much of the year as possible to help take up soluble phosphorus and prevent off-site movement. Avoid over-applying phosphorus.