“Produce less bottled water” or “Use less water” are the comments that usually pop up during the argument of how to save water on Earth. On the bright side, a more efficient method has been discovered. It is called conservation tillage. Conservation tillage is mainly used for cultivation, yet at the same time it helps to conserve water.
Conservation tillage is a method of soil cultivation that leaves behind the previous year’s crop residue on fields before and after planting the next crop, which helps to reduce soil erosion and runoff. Conservation tillage requires at least 30% of the soil surface to be covered with residue after planting the crop.
The most important point about conservation tillage is that it reduces runoff. Residues protect the soil surface from the rainfall and act like a dam to slow the water movement. Therefore, the rainfall will stay in the field allowing the soil to absorb it. Crop residue also helps hold soil along with associated nutrients pesticides on the field to reduce runoff into surface water. In fact, residue can cut herbicide runoff rates in half. Additionally, microbes that live in carbon-rich soils quickly degrade pesticides and utilize nutrients to protect groundwater quality. Pesticides can be toxic to aquatic plants and animals if present at high enough concentrations. Consequently, conservation tillage acts as a filter paper. First, it traps the water like a dam, than allows the soil to absorb that water. As that water gets absorbed to the soil, the crop residue separates sediment, nutrients, and pesticides from the water, which eventually produces a clean quality groundwater.