Chapter 3: Do not disturb – No-till farming

So how exactly do these farmers plant without
plowing? Most use “no-till” planters, which are designed to slice through plant
residues from previous harvests, while minimizing soil disturbance as they plant the seeds for
their crops. Here’s how it works…
Pulled by a tractor, a no-till planter uses thin rotating disks to make a narrow slice
through plant residue and into the soil. Next, a tube places the seed at an appropriate depth
in the soil while a second wheel gently presses or “firms” the seed into the soil to ensure
proper seed-to-soil contact. Once the seed is placed, and covered, “presto,” we’re
ready to grow—with very little disturbance to the soil or to the organisms that reside
there! And here are some of the other benefits of
no-till… • Farmers reduce labor, fuel, and machinery
costs and they also improve how well soils function.
• Fewer tillage passes prevent compaction and surface crusting of soil, making it easier
for plants to sprout and grow deep roots. • No-till farming reduces erosion by leaving
plant residue on the soil surface, which protects the soil from the damaging impacts of rain
drops and the wind. • Since there is no plowing with no-till,
much less airborne dust is created—which helps everyone breathe easier.
• Crop residue left on the soil surface from no-till also limits evaporation, conserving
water for plant growth. • That crop residue is also a source of
carbon, the essential energy source for living organisms that make up the soil food web.
• No-tilled fields often have more beneficial insects and earth worms, and a larger, better
balanced microbial community that can even resist disease outbreaks.
• Those organisms increase the soil’s organic matter content and build soil structure—Aggregates
are like a house with walls and rooms! – It’s a city down there!
• Soil in no-till systems with better “rooms” or pores absorbs and stores more water and
plants are able to grow their roots deeper into the soil to get to that water. This means
that farmers can prevent floods, and grow crops that survive droughts.

9 thoughts on “Chapter 3: Do not disturb – No-till farming

  1. Insecticide is being applied killing the beneficial insects. Additionally at 40 seconds, an insecticide spill occurs.

  2. Still sceptical? Why not try no-till on a single land and see for yourself the changes in the soil and crops. If the results are to your liking, extend the practice to another land and so on. Applying no-till or minimum-till in vegetables will differ from farm to farm according to the crops that are grown and the climatic conditions, but it’s certainly worth a trial. Zeljko Serdar, CCRES

  3. I wish more no tilling was done, ask the the farmers during the dust bowl era (are any still around?) How plowing up the soil worked then.. Ride by a big Field on a windy day while they are plowing and see half their top soil blowing away. No till just makes better sense

  4. No doubt no till has its place in some areas and some soils. NOT ALL AREAS. We first used this method four years ago planting a hundred and fifty acre paddock in Barley using knife points after using roundup ar the recommended rate and waiting for a week. The paddock right next to it we plowed and it was left very clumpy so we followed along behind with a cultivator, then we cultivatored it all again. Admitidly it was an extra three passes and cost us more in fuel, but we didn't spray with a knockdown and the cultivator was close on forty foot wide so it didn't take long and fuel costs were minimal. We then went in with a seeder of the exact same type but just a conventional tyned undercarriage with five inch points. Same seed rate, same fertiliser rate, both paddocks hadn't been in crop for three years and both paddocks had wheat in them previously. Both paddocks were identical soil types. The ploughed and cultivated crop outyeilded the no tilled crop by four bags to the acre. Following year we put both paddocks into lupins and gues what. Same story. The extra pass with the cultivator compared to using a knockdown still worked out that we were thousands of $$$ a lot better off by using the tillage method. I'm not knocking no till but where we farm it just doesn't work as well. We also noticed MORE EROSION in the no tilled paddock after a heavy down pour. Maybe further inland where they need to hold onto as much moisture as possible results are different. But now inland farmers are starting to use mulbourd ploughs to bring up a bit of clay in their sandy soils with amazing results. We are by no means bigtime farmers, at the most well sow 6,7,8 hundred acres of our two two thousand. We also run 4000 sheep and a hundred or so cows. But when your talking some farms putting in ten to fifteen thousand acres, some even double, triple that, an extra four to five bags to the acre can run into the millions at three hundred bucks a tonne. Do the maths and you'll see what I mean. Some places the opposite might occur. Just not ours.

  5. The most benefices of conservation agriculture (CA) systems is carbon sequestration resulting increment of soil organic matter (SOM) because SOM has a key role in soil protection from erosion and holding water capacity.

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