Environmental benefits are difficult to quantify, but may affect a farm budget. Interestingly, all environmental benefits of CTF usually correspond with economic benefit to the grower.
Less greenhouse gas emission
There can be less fossil fuel consumption by cropping with CTF and therefore less carbon dioxide emission from a farm. Nitrous oxide and methane formation in oxygen deprived waterlogged conditions may be less on a CTF farm with better soil health than a non-CTF farm, if subsoil constraints have been sufficiently rectified. Thus there may be less greenhouse gas emissions from soil on CTF farms, but this has not yet been extensively assessed in Western Australia.
Less nutrient leaching, especially from deep sandy soils
Less subsoil constraint for root growth on sandy soils will enable better interception of leaching nutrients by roots during winter. This may enable some additional fertiliser efficiency to further reduce input costs. The benefit may only be in the vegetative growing season of the crop and so summer leaching or leaching during extreme rain events would not be reduced.
Reduced water erosion risk
Sufficient anchored ground cover is a primary requirement for reduction of water erosion risk by increasing the erosive resistance of the soil surface to overland flow. Overland flow of water is encouraged by poor infiltration. The good condition of CTF soils, if subsoil constraints have been sufficiently rectified, improves infiltration of large rainfalls and can minimise run-off (see 6.5 Surface water control in the CTF technical manual under External Links for more details).