Tillage and No-Till Systems

panorama of tillage systems

Tillage Systems Descriptions

There are a variety of tillage systems available for crop production.  While tillage operations are performed for various reasons, producers must evaluate the need for each and every field operation conducted in order to improve profitability.  In addition, the effects of the tillage operations on the soil system and the environment must be considered. More information is available on the following tillage systems:

Soil & Water Management: Tillage Concepts

Tillage of the soil has been used to prepare a seedbed, kill weeds, incorporate nutrients, and manage crop residues. The goal of the tillage system has been to provide a proper environment for seed germination and root growth for crop production.

Throughout the years, tillage systems have changed as new technologies have become available and the costs of fuel and labor increased. With adoption of reduced tillage systems, many producers are realizing the negative effects of tillage as they see the soil and water conservation benefits of leaving the residue on the soil surface. No-till crop production systems leave the most residue and often prove to be the most profitable methods of crop production.

tillage photo

Tillage breaks up soil structure and destroys residue.

With no-till, the improved soil structure and moisture conserving residue cover makes more water available for crop production by improving infiltration and decreasing evaporation from the soil surface.

  • The tilled plot on the left has little soil structure, resulting in problems with soil crusting and crop emergence.
  • The no-till plot on the right has a protective layer of residue which absorbs raindrop impact and reduces evaporation from the soil surface.
  • The tillage has beat down the soil elevation on the left, compared to the no-till surface on the right, reducing the pore spaces in the soil profile.

Related Articles

Randy Anderson

Speaker to Explore Using No-till in Organic Farming February 22, 2017

Mark your calendars for Thursday, March 2 at 1 p.m. when Randy Anderson of the USDA Agricultural Research Service will present on “No-till Organic Farming May Be Possible with a Systems Approach."

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Nebraska Extension Event
Nebraska Extension Event

No-till, Soil Health Field Days at 2 Sites in June May 20, 2016

Improving soil health through continuous no-till cropping systems will be the focus of two field days this June -- June 21 at Winside and June 23 at Alliance. The events include field tours and presentations in the morning, lunch, and afternoon programs inside.

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Gabe Brown to Speak on Cover Crops, No-till Jan. 29 in Columbus January 12, 2016

Gabe Brown will speak on cover crops and no-till at a Nebraska Extension event in Columbus January 29. Brown, who is from Bismarck, ND, is one of the most sought after speakers for no-till, cover crops, livestock grazing, and soil health presentations in the United States. 

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