Various Conservation Tillage practices:
We shall discuss the following:
- Minimum Tillage
- Zero Tillage or No-Tillage
- Stubble Mulch Tillage
- Rotary Tillage
- Strip Tillage
- Combined Tillage
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It aims at reducing tillage operations to the minimum necessity for ensuring a good seed bed.
Note: The concept of minimum tillage was started in USA.
Tillage can be reduced in 2 ways:
- By omitting operations which do not give much benefit when compared to the cost.
- By combining agricultural operations like seeding and fertilizer application.
The minimum tillage systems can be grouped into the following categories:
- Row zone tillage
- Plough plant tillage
- Wheel Track tillage
In all these systems, primary tillage is as usual. However, secondary tillage is replaced by direct sowing in which sown seed is covered in the row zone with the equipment used for sowing.
Zero Tillage (No Tillage):
In this, new crop is planted in the residues of the previous crop without any prior soil tillage or seed bed preparation and it is possible when all the weeds are controlled by the use of herbicides.
Zero tillage is applicable for soils with a coarse textured surface horizon, good internal drainage, high biological activity of soil fauna, favourable initial soil structure and an adequate quantity of crop residue as mulch.
So, we can say that No-till is defined as a system in which the soil is left undisturbed from harvest to planting except for nutrient injection.
Till planting is one method of practicing zero tillage.
The machinery accomplishes four tasks in one operation: clean a narrow strip over the crop row, open the soil for seed insertion, place the seed and cover the seed properly. A wide sweep and trash bars clear a strip over the previous crop row and planter-shoe opens a narrow strip into which seeds are planted and covered.
Stubble Mulch Tillage or Stubble Mulch farming:
• An approach developed to keep the soil protected at all times whether by growing a crop or by crop residues left on the surface during fallow periods is known as stubble-mulch tillage or stubble mulch farming.
• It is a year-round system of managing plant residue with implements that undercut residue, loosen the soil and kill weeds.
• Soil is tilled as often as necessary to control weeds during the interval between two crops.
How is it practiced?
• Good management of stubble mulch farming system begins with the harvest of the crop.
• Sweeps or blades are generally used to cut the soil up to 12 to 15 cm depth in the first operation after harvest and the depth of cut reduced during subsequent operations.
• When usually large amount of residues are present, a disc type implement is used for the first operation to incorporate some of the residues into the soil.
• This hastens decomposition, but still keeps enough residue on the soil.
Two methods for sowing crops in stubble mulch tillage are:
• Similar to zero tillage, a wide sweep and trash bars are used to clear a strip and a narrow planter shoe opens a narrow furrow into which seeds are placed.
• A narrow chisel of 5-10 cm width is worked through the soil at a depth of 15-30 cm leaving all plant residues on the surface. The chisel shatters the tillage pans and surface crusts. Planting is done with special planters.
Rotary Tillage: Tillage operations employing rotary action of the tool to cut, break and mix the soil is called rotary tillage.
Strip Tillage: In strip tillage system only, isolated bands of soil are tilled.
Combined Tillage: Tillage operations utilizing simultaneously two or more different types of tillage tools or implements to simplify, control or reduce the number of operations over a field is called combined tillage.
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