Economic advantages tillage reduction Fuel savings (15 up to 80%) Labor savings (up to 60%) Decreased machinery costs (after initial investments) Increased supporting power of the soil In time nutrient savings
Environmental advantages tillage reduction CO2, N2O, CH4 emission reduction Extra carbon storage in the soil: up to 200 kg.ha-1.y-1 C Increased drought tolerance (1% o.s. = 150,000 liters/ha) Better water infiltration and less erosion: >90% at no till >60% at non inversion tillage Improved surface water quality through decreased superficial emission of nutrients and pesticides
Creating More CompetetiveFazenda Frank’anna farm, BrazilAlternatives and Tecnologies: Started no tillage systemFarming Sustainable in 1976 In Brasil Comparison ploughing and no-till Ploughing No-tillYield for 1 lt of fuel 50 kg 123 kgYield for 1 kg of NPK 15 kg 26 kg
In NL non inversion tillage in specific cases Erosion only regional Slopes, wind If necessary loosening the soil after a crop No till virtually absent Cultivation in various ways, often in combination with a powered tool (harrow or cultivator)
2009: start multiple year experiment maizePrevious: several years grassland at marine loam soil(Lelystad, NL). Experiment in total 180 plots on 2 ha.Start with main treatments (in 3 replicates): Ploughing Ploughing with a caterpillar tractor Non inversion tillage Ridge till No till Experimental strip, e.g. strip tillageSub treatments: 5 green manure crops in fallow 2 weed control strategies
Experiment objectives Investigate practicability of reduced tillage systems as developed in the US and Canada in Dutch conditions; Investigate the interaction of tillage system, weed control method and green manure crop choice; Investigate the consequences for weed control, crop protection and economical and environmental aspects.
No tillage machinery (Evers Hunter) Aim: grow maize without soil cultivation
Strip tillage machinery (Dutch Pol/Kuipers) Aim: grow maize in permanent grassland/on less supportive soil; apply manure directly
Mechanical weed control Harrowing, powered harrow
Mechanical weed control Blades and finger weeders
Mechanical weed control Rotary strip cultivation
Preliminary conclusions More or less comparable yields if cover crop was killed with Roundup prior to maize planting No till / strip till resulted in yield reduction during the first years. For organic farming non inversion tillage instead of ploughing is possible, but: Mechanical equipment should be adapted to cover crop residues on the soil surface (e.g. moving harrows). Weed management difficult at organic no till and strip till; difficult to avoid yield losses. Factor 2-3 more weeds left in case of non inversion tillage compared to ploughing in the second year. Cover crop choice influences weed pressure (less after rye and oilseed rape).
Future outlook Reduced tillage systems will gain importance in Europe: economic en environmental contraints. Optimising opportunities needed and longer term comparison Yields, weeds and economics as well as environmental effects. Optimal incorporation of precision techniques (sowing, fertilising, crop protection)