Agroscope, Institute for Plant Production Sciences IPS, 1260 Nyon, Switzerland

Zero tillage – an element of a different cultivation system

“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.”

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