Soil is a necessary part of farming and agriculture. April 16th - 22nd is declared as National Soil Conservation Week across Canada.
Ken Panchuk (pictured right), Provincial Soil Specialist, says the zero-till practice keeps the soil intact, "This Spring, we've had several windy days in Saskatchewan and the air remained clean and clear. In the past, and not too distant past just a few decades ago, if we had windy days as windy as we've experienced the sky would be covered in blowing dust. That's the clear evidence that what we have been doing in soil conservation has proven to be a very positive thing for the environment and agricultural as well. It stops the loss of our valuable resource, soil."
Saskatchewan started to adopt zero-till in the early 1990's. Zero-till is the practice of leaving stubble standing, with crop residue on the soil surface. Around 70% cropland is in zero-till, while another 20% is in mid-till. Panchuk says that farmers today minimize the amount of tillage that is used in agriculture practices.
On the zero-till system, producers will regularly keep crop residue on the soil, continuous cropping, and crop rotation. Panchuk says the key is to grow healthy, high-yielding crops in this system, "If we do that, we are doing the best benefit to the agriculture system by producing an abundance of food for the world population, as well as sustaining our cropping system in the long run."
When the weather gets drier, and top soil tends to lift off more. Panchuk says the most basic preventative measure is to cut the stubble slightly taller. This is called tall stubble technology. He talked about the positives of this practice, "That's one of the hallmarks of adoption of zero-till and conservation farming is that when we are short of moisture, we can make simple changes to the farming practices to allow us to keep more of that precious moisture."