Conservation agriculture and ecosystem services
Dillaha, Theo A. III
Cheryl B. Heatwole Shenk
Moore, Keith M.
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Conservation agriculture has many agricultural and food security benefits. In addition, conservation agriculture has potential on- and off-site ecosystem service benefits that are the focus of this paper. Ecosystem services provided by conservation agriculture fall into three main categories: provisioning services such as increased food production; regulating services such as carbon sequestration and climate regulation, reducing losses of soil, pesticides, nutrients and other potential contaminants in surface and subsurface water flows, and water cycle improvements; and supporting services such as nutrient and storage and cycling. This paper focuses on the regulating service benefits of conservation agriculture: erosion control, reduced losses of pesticides and nutrients, and particularly water cycle benefits including increased water productivity (more crop per drop), infiltration, percolation, plant available water storage, groundwater recharge, plant available water, and stream baseflow and decreases in peak stream flows and downstream flooding.