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60 Ways Farmers Can Protect  Surface Water
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3. Determine How Your Operations Will Affect Residue Cover

combine cutting corn

For planning purposes, it is important to predict residue levels that will be on the soil surface to control erosion throughout the year. To do this, consult charts available from the Cooperative Extension Service or Natural Resources Conservation Service.

These charts tell you the percent of surface cover remaining after harvest for different crops and yields. High-residue crops such as corn and wheat provide enough residue to cover between 80 and 95 percent of the surface after harvest. Soybeans leave between 65 and 85 percent surface cover.

field The charts will also tell you the percentage of surface cover remaining after natural decay over the winter and after each field operation.
Multiply all of the figures together to estimate the percentage of surface cover remaining
Multiply all of the figures together to estimate the percentage of surface cover remaining. In this example, the producer has 33 percent surface cover after harvest, subsoiling, winter decay, disking, and planting.
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