Did you know that conservative soil tillage, an alternative to classic deep ploughing, is attracting more and more interest among farmers? Among these, the most “extreme” choice is precisely no-till seeding: an agronomic technique that involves the use of specific seed drills capable of working on soil that has not yet been processed.
But why is conservative soil tillage such as no-till seeding mostly considered advantageous? There are two main reasons:
- they allow to reduce operating costs thanks to lower fuel consumption and working times
- they lead to a greater conservation of the organic substance, with beneficial effects on the soil and the atmosphere.
To be optimally applied, From the moment this technique is adopted, it must be in perfect harmony with other cultivation practices, taking into consideration certain aspects, such as type of soil (light or medium-textured soils are better suited than heavy ones). The climatic trend and the type of crop also have an important influence on the application of no-till seeding. In fact, high-yield crops such as wheat do not have high sensitivity in failures due to imperfect seed-soil contact or in the depth of deposition.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of this agronomic practice? Continue reading this short article and discover them all.
Advantages of no-till seeding
The first advantage of no-till seeding relates to economical saving. Many years of tests carried out by several Italian research centres clearly show that, in arable land, the replacement of traditional ploughing with no-till seeding (or even minimum tillage) implicates a significative reduction in fuel consumption.
Using combined machines, capable of carrying out several operations in a single step, given the type of soil and the crop, results in an economic saving can reach and exceed 50% compared to conventional techniques. It is clear, therefore, the positive impact that no-till seeding also has on the surrounding environment.
The adoption of conservation agriculture in general has less impact on the living communities of the soil, with an obvious beneficial effect on its biological quality. Let's take an example to make it clearer: in land managed for several years with no-till seed drills it is usual to count a higher number of earthworms than in plots subjected to conventional processing.
In addition, the mulching effect of plant residues on the surface and the structural improvement of the soil (a direct consequence of non-tillage) increases the moisture level of the soil. This aspect, found in experimental evidence conducted on durum wheat in rotation with legumes in Southern Italy, translates into better water availability for plants.
Finally, a further positive aspect linked to the non-removal of crop residues and non-working of the soil over the years is the significant accumulation of soil organic substance on the surface. As a cascade, the benefits of soil porosity concern better aeration and a reduction in the risk of water stagnation.
Disadvantages of no-till seeding
No-till seeding does not only bring benefits and advantages. In fact, multi-year trials carried out on durum wheat in Southern Italy show how no-till seeding can show an increase in soil compaction in the long term due to the lack of rotation of the clod.
In addition to this, while higher soil moisture ensures better water availability for the root systems, it also favours the onset of attacks by fungal diseases. This is why it is important to carefully handle weeding in the transition phase between conventional and conservative agriculture.
Weeding serves precisely to compensate for the absence of mechanical control provided by the processing, often entailing additional costs for the farm.
However, the main disadvantage associated with the application of no-tillage is the decline in production: the reduction in the intensity of processing, while containing costs, does not always allow incomes comparable to conventional processing due to lower productions, especially with no-till sowing.
Fortunately, precision agriculture makes up for this shortcoming. Using variable dosage management technologies determines not only a considerable increase in production, but also in greater efficiency of the inputs administered (fertilisers and seeds).
Long-term studies carried out on wheat have in fact confirmed that, in the medium to long term, the incomes obtainable with variable distribution on minimum tillage and no-till sowing reach, and in some cases exceed, those of conventional management.
In this article we have seen a general overview of the advantages and disadvantages of no-till seeding: the technique that requires the use of special seed drills to till land occupied by crop residues in rotation.
For decades, Forigo Roter Italia has been offering the market innovative solutions to ensure effective sod seeding. For detailed information on the operation and features of our seed drills, please take a look at our product range or contact us directly. The Forigo team is always at your disposal to answer questions and queries!