“Farmland is increasingly stressed with high axle loads and intensive soil tillage techniques. The structure of the soil is thereby becoming more and more Unstable, whereas above all its load capacity has to be markedly increased. Zero tillage – a cultivation system without any soil tillage – offers a solution to this dilemma: it goes easy on soil and water, at the same time it is labour-saving and cost-cutting.<br>Zero tillage is a demanding system which requires some rethinking on the part of the farm manager. During the period of transition crop yields may fluctuate somewhat, until about five years later a new ,dynamic equilibrium”” is reached in the soil – with a high porosity and earthworm population.<br>An equable crop rotation (alternating grain and foliage plants) is crucial for the success of a zero tillage system. it is also essential to maintain a permanent soil cover with straw, plant residues, and living plants as basis for a high soil biological activity, including an efficient weed control – at the same time minimizing all the pressure on the soil.”
Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi are important for healthy soils and crops. A pan-European study shows that plant-protection products adversely affect these fungi, reducing their ability to supply plants with phosphorus via their roots.
Birdsfoot trefoil and sainfoin are used in mixtures for perennial hay meadows and for tannin-containing fodder. Agroscope is adding two new cultivars of birdsfoot trefoil to the ‘List of Recommended Varieties of Forage Plants’, whilst there is no change in the case of sainfoin.
Tall oat grass and golden oat grass are typical hay-meadow grasses that are also suitable for forage mixtures. Of the four tall and three golden oat grass varieties tested, only one new variety of tall oat grass is likely to make it onto the List of Recommended Varieties.