No-Tillage Crop Production: A Revolution in Agriculture!
- G. B. Tripletta and
- Warren A. Dick *b
For thousands of years, agriculture and tillage were considered synonymous. It was simply not thought possible to grow crops without first tilling the soil before planting and for weed control. The advent of modern herbicides permitted no-tillage (NT) to be developed and practiced on actual working family farms. No-tillage is generally defined as planting crops in unprepared soil with at least 30% mulch cover. Adoption of NT after its successful demonstration in the 1950s was slow. However, with better planters, herbicides, and accumulated experience, NT began to be widely adopted in the 1980s in the United States and then in Australia, South America, and Canada. Today, approximately 23% of the total cropland in the United States is planted using NT. No-tillage has revolutionized agricultural systems because it allows individual producers to manage greater amounts of land with reduced energy, labor, and machinery inputs. At the same time, NT is a very effective erosion control measure and improves water and fertilizer use efficiency so that many crops yield better under NT than under tilled systems. Tillage, like crops, can be rotated but the benefits of NT are most likely to be realized with continuous application. We review some of the early work that led to the development of NT and how NT impacts the crop, soil, hydrology, and farm economics. While highly sustainable, there are still many challenges that remain for researchers to solve so the benefits of NT can be realized on expanded land area and for more crops, worldwide.Please view the pdf by using the Full Text (PDF) link under 'View' to the left.
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