Conservation Tillage. AFSIC Find-it Guide.
Alternative Farming Systems Information Center
Information Research Services Branch
National Agricultural Library
Agricultural Research Service
U.S. Department of Agriculture
Revised January 2017
- What is Conservation Tillage?
- Database and Internet Searches of:
- AGRICOLA from the National Agricultural Library (NAL)
- Selected Government Websites, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and online resources
- The Current Research Information System (CRIS) from USDA
- ARS Scientific Manuscript Database or TEKTRAN
- Search Tips
- Recommended Databases and Journals
- Extension and Educational Materials: online sources
- Related Information Sources and Organizations
- Ask an AFSIC Librarian for assistance
What is Conservation Tillage?
The National Crop Residue Management Survey (Conservation Technology Information Center (CTIC)) specifies that "Conservation Tillage is any cropland system that leaves at least one-third of the soil covered after with crop residue after planting. Conservation tillage types include no-till/strip-till, ridge-till and mulch-till." [From: Conservation Technology Information Center.
Available at CTIC Website: http://www.ctic.org/CRM/ or http://www.ctic.org/media/pdf/TillageDefinitions.pdf]
"Conservation tillage—Any tillage and planting system that covers 30 percent or more of the soil surface with crop residue, after planting, to reduce soil erosion by water. Where soil erosion by wind is the primary concern, any system that maintains at least 1,000 pounds per acre of flat, small grain residue equivalent on the surface throughout the critical wind erosion period. Two key factors influencing crop residue are (1) the type of crop, which establishes the initial residue amount and its fragility, and (2) the type of tillage operations prior to and including planting."
[From: Agricultural Chemicals and Production Technology: Glossary. USDA. Economic Research Service.
- From Sustainable Agriculture: Definition and Terms (AFSIC SRB 99-02) Revised August 2007.
- Conservation Agriculture Systems Innovation documentary videos. University of California.
- From Conservation Technology Information Center (CTIC - Purdue University)
- "Conservation Tillage - A Hot, New Idea From the Distant Past." Yearbook of Agriculture 1987. pp. 165-169.
- Conservation Tillage Practices and Erosion Control, AFSIC
- Conservation Tillage, ATTRA, 2003.
- Pursuing Conservation Tillage Systems for Organic Crop Production, Organic Matters Series, ATTRA, June 2001
Database and Internet Searches
Conduct automated, real-time, searches in the USDA NAL catalog (AGRICOLA). Select any link to generate a new bibliography. Search the USDA Current Research Information System (CRIS) and the USDA ARS Scientific Manuscript Database. Or, find online materials about conservation tillage practices.
NAL AGRICOLA Database
AGRICOLA (AGRICultural Online Access) is a bibliographic database of citations to the agricultural literature created by the National Agricultural Library (NAL) and its cooperators. The records describe publications and resources encompassing all aspects of agriculture and allied disciplines. [Read more about AGRICOLA.]
Search for information on tillage types in the AGRICOLA Book Catalog or Article Citations by date range. Articles include journal articles, reports, book chapters, and reprints. Books include books, serials, audiovisuals, etc. Search strategy:
(("conservation till?" OR "no-till" OR "ridge till?" OR "mulch till?" OR "strip-till?" OR "rotation? till?") NOT (groundwater OR aquifer))
NAL's Water and Agriculture Information Center also offers automated real-time, dynamic bibliographies on Conservation Tillage.
Browse AGRICOLA by subject heading.
- Go to https://agricola.nal.usda.gov/.
- Select "Basic Search" link in the Books or Articles section.
- Enter a specific word or phrase in the box labeled "Find".
- Select "Subject Browse" from the dropdown box.
- Select "Search".
Before the National Agricultural Library's AGRICOLA database was available online, our staff compiled "quick" subject quick bibliographies (below) to assist with research. These archived QB's identified relevant journal articles, reports, books, and video citations.
- Conservation Tillage (QB92-02)
- Conservation Tillage (QB94-13) January 1991 to December 1993. 338 citations
- How do I search AGRICOLA for other publications on this topic in the National Agricultural Library Collection?
Search USDA Databases and Government Websites.
The Agricultural Research Service (ARS) is USDA's main in-house research agency. ARS research develops solutions to a wide range of problems related to food and agriculture. Select a linked word to find USDA or other government resources, read blogs and recent news posts, or search the Internet for information on conservation tillage. [Note: Use the Advanced ARS Search feature to find resources published at a specific ARS location.]
Agricultural Research Service Web
United States Department of Agriculture Web
USA.gov (All Government)
The Current Research Information System (CRIS)
The Current Research Information System (CRIS) is the U.S. Department of Agriculture's documentation and reporting system for ongoing and recently completed research projects in agriculture, food and nutrition, and forestry.
To conduct a keyword search in the TITLE or DESCRIPTOR fields, follow these steps:
- Access the CRIS database.
- Copy one of the following search strategies:
TI,DE=conservation ADJ tillage
TI,DE=mulch ADJ tillage
TI,DE=no ADJ tillage
TI,DE=ridge ADJ tillage
TI,DE=strip ADJ tillage
- Select Professional Search.
- Select the Edit button beside Search Number S1.
- Paste the search strategy copied in Step 1 into the search box.
- Select the OK button.
- Select the Display button to view the results.
- Optional: Select the Change Format button to choose a different display format or to customize your format using selected data fields.
ARS Scientific Manuscript Database
The ARS Scientific Manuscript Database, formerly known as "TEKTRAN", captures the latest ARS published research results. The scientific database is updated daily.
- Go to the Scientific Manuscript Database Search Page
- Search for a scientific manuscript by looking for a keyword in the title, abstract, author, or all of those fields. Find manuscripts on "Conservation Tillage".
- Explore manuscripts by strategic topical areas. Topic: Conservation Tillage
Search the Internet
The tips below will help you create your own search strategies to conduct literature searches.
Recommended Keywords and Phrases
- (conservation till*) or (mulch till*) or (no till*) or (ridge tillage) or (strip till*)
- The NAL Agricultural Thesaurus is an online vocabulary look-up tool for agricultural and biological terms. The Thesaurus is organized to help find terms in a specific discipline or subject area. The Thesaurus features automated Google Scholar and AGRICOLA database searches for each term.
- NAL Thesaurus Terms
- Term: conservation tillage
Broader Term: tillage
Narrower Terms: no-tillage; ridge tillage; strip tillage
Related Terms: agricultural conservation practice; conservation practices; soil conservation
- Term: conservation tillage
- Refine your search with related keywords and phrases (See also: Sustainable Agriculture: Definitions and Terms, or check the AGROVOC Multilingual agricultural thesaurus).
Recommended Databases and Journals *
- The Alternative Farming Systems Information Center maintains a directory of databases that are related to sustainable and alternative agriculture.
Free online databases
- AGRICultural OnLine Access (AGRICOLA) contains bibliographic records created by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Library and its cooperators.
- AGRIS is produced by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
- The Current Research Information System (CRIS) is the U.S. Department of Agriculture's documentation and reporting system for ongoing agricultural, food and nutrition, and forestry research.
Fee-based online databases
(Contact AFSIC to request assistance with database searches.)
- Biological & Agricultural Index
- BIOSIS Previews
- CAB Abstracts
- Current Contents
- Water Resources Abstracts
- Advances in Geoecology (publisher: Catena Verlag)
- Agronomy Journal (publisher: American Society of Agronomy)
- Biology and Fertility of Soils (publisher: Springer-Verlag Heidelberg)
- Canadian Journal of Plant Science (publisher: Canadian Science Publishing)
- Canadian Journal of Soil Science (publisher: Canadian Science Publishing)
- Crop Science (publisher: Crop Science Society of America)
- HortTechnology (publisher: American Society for Horticultural Science)
- Journal of Soil and Water Conservation (publisher: Soil and Water Conservation Society)
- Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems (publisher: Taylor and Francis) Formerly titled Journal of Sustainable Agriculture
- Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems (publisher: Cambridge University Press)
- Soil and Tillage Research (publisher: Elsevier)
- Soil Science Society of America Journal (publisher: Soil Science Society of America)
- Soil Science (publisher: Wolters Kluwer)
- Transactions of the ASABE (publisher: The American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE))
- Weed Science (publisher: Weed Science Society of America)
- Weed Technology (publisher: Weed Science Society of America)
Extension and Education Materials: online sources
"The Cooperative Extension System is a nationwide, non-credit educational network. Each U.S. state and territory has a state office at its land-grant university and a network of local or regional offices. These offices are staffed by one or more experts who provide useful, practical, and research-based information to agricultural producers, small business owners, youth, consumers, and others in rural areas and communities of all sizes."
- Missouri Alternatives Center
- Great Places to Find Information About Farming Alternatives
- Resources from the Cooperative Extension Service. To locate your local Extension office or one of the 100 colleges and universities that comprise the nation's Land-Grant University System:
- Check the government pages of your local phone directory
- Find your local office at: https://nifa.usda.gov/land-grant-colleges-and-universities-partner-website-directory
Related Information Sources and Organization
- ATTRA - National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service publications: Pursuing Conservation Tillage Systems for Organic Crop Production, and Conservation Tillage
- Colorado Conservation Tillage Association
- Conservation Systems Research Team, USDA-ARS National Soil Dynamics Laboratory
- Conservation Technology Information Center (CTIC)
- European Conservation Agriculture Federation (ECAF)
- Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
- International Erosion Control Association
- International Soil Tillage Research Organization
- Missouri No-Till Planting Systems Manual
- National Association of Conservation Districts
- The No-Till Farmer
- No-till on the Plains
- No-tillage information by Rolf Derpsch (Paraguay)
- Saskatchewan Soil Conservation Association
- Soil and Water Conservation Society
- South Carolina Department of Natural Resources Conservation Tillage: What's In it for me?
- South Dakota No-Till Association
- Western Australian No-Tillage Farmers Association
- NAL Thesaurus Terms