MINDS @ UW-Madison

Differences in Tillage Intensity Near Oregon, Wisconsin

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Erickson, Kolin; Barnes, Corey; Sommers, Robert; Wilson, Andrew
Dec 17, 2010
Tillage; Oregon, WI
A group of four undergraduate Geography students at the University of Wisconsin ? Madison looked into agricultural practices and tillage intensity in the Oregon, Wisconsin area. First, they were curious as to specifically how agricultural practices affected tillage intensity and why farmers chose to implement said agricultural practices. Second, they were curious as to what sort of practices were utilized in the study area and whether any sort of spatial relationships existed between the adoption of said agricultural practices and various variables?such as slope, size of field, distance to water bodies and water ways, and distance to town. It was discovered that most farmers practice roughly the same tillage practices with regards to the crop type planted. Generally (for the major cash crops of the area), soybean fields are left un-tilled after harvest and corn fields are plowed by moldboard plow. All farmers practice some sort of tilling of the soil, none use purely ?no-till? agriculture. Since tillage practices are so universal per crop type in this area, it is speculated that crop rotation is the major way tillage intensity is controlled for in this area. Upon comparing the locations of fields classified by current crop type (classified as either a ?high intensity tillage crop? or a ?low intensity tillage crop?) to slope data, the researchers found that there appears to be a relationship between the two. It is speculated that farmers tend to plant high intensity crops more often when fields are located on flatter ground, and low intensity crops when fields are on steeper ground. More research is necessary to confirm these results or to identify other existing relationships, et cetera.
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