What Is Conservation Plowing?

Conservation plowing, or conservation tillage, is a method of planting and harvesting crops where stalks and other residue from the previous year are left on the ground into the next season. This reduces soil erosion and run-off, keeping soil healthy and able to produce crops for longer.

In order to be effective, at least 30 percent of the soil must be covered with residue, though some methods of soil tillage involve leaving up to 70 percent of the plant residue. In the most common methods of conservation tillage, new crops are planted directly on top of the residue, though some types of crops grow better when planted on ridges a few inches above the residue.