Strategic tillage in no-till farming systems in Australia's northern grains-growing regions: I. Drivers and implementation

Dang, Y. P., Seymour, N. P., Walker, S. R., Bell, M. J. and Freebairn, D. M. (2015) Strategic tillage in no-till farming systems in Australia's northern grains-growing regions: I. Drivers and implementation. Soil and Tillage Research, 152 104-114. doi:10.1016/j.still.2015.03.009


Author Dang, Y. P.
Seymour, N. P.
Walker, S. R.
Bell, M. J.
Freebairn, D. M.
Title Strategic tillage in no-till farming systems in Australia's northern grains-growing regions: I. Drivers and implementation
Journal name Soil and Tillage Research   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0167-1987
Publication date 2015-09-01
Year available 2015
Sub-type Critical review of research, literature review, critical commentary
DOI 10.1016/j.still.2015.03.009
Open Access Status Not yet assessed
Volume 152
Start page 104
End page 114
Total pages 11
Place of publication Amsterdam, Netherlands
Publisher Elsevier
Language eng
Subject 1102 Agronomy and Crop Science
1111 Soil Science
1904 Earth-Surface Processes
Abstract Development of no-tillage (NT) farming has revolutionized agricultural systems by allowing growers to manage greater areas of land with reduced energy, labour and machinery inputs to control erosion, improve soil health and reduce greenhouse gas emission. However, NT farming systems have resulted in a build-up of herbicide-resistant weeds, an increased incidence of soil- and stubble-borne diseases and enrichment of nutrients and carbon near the soil surface. Consequently, there is an increased interest in the use of an occasional tillage (termed strategic tillage, ST) to address such emerging constraints in otherwise-NT farming systems. Decisions around ST uses will depend upon the specific issues present on the individual field or farm, and profitability and effectiveness of available options for management. This paper explores some of the issues with the implementation of ST in NT farming systems. The impact of contrasting soil properties, the timing of the tillage and the prevailing climate exert a strong influence on the success of ST. Decisions around timing of tillage are very complex and depend on the interactions between soil water content and the purpose for which the ST is intended. The soil needs to be at the right water content before executing any tillage, while the objective of the ST will influence the frequency and type of tillage implement used. The use of ST in long-term NT systems will depend on factors associated with system costs and profitability, soil health and environmental impacts. For many farmers maintaining farm profitability is a priority, so economic considerations are likely to be a primary factor dictating adoption. However, impacts on soil health and environment, especially the risk of erosion and the loss of soil carbon, will also influence a grower's choice to adopt ST, as will the impact on soil moisture reserves in rainfed cropping systems.
Formatted abstract
Development of no-tillage (NT) farming has revolutionized agricultural systems by allowing growers to manage greater areas of land with reduced energy, labour and machinery inputs to control erosion, improve soil health and reduce greenhouse gas emission. However, NT farming systems have resulted in a build-up of herbicide-resistant weeds, an increased incidence of soil- and stubble-borne diseases and enrichment of nutrients and carbon near the soil surface. Consequently, there is an increased interest in the use of an occasional tillage (termed strategic tillage, ST) to address such emerging constraints in otherwise-NT farming systems. Decisions around ST uses will depend upon the specific issues present on the individual field or farm, and profitability and effectiveness of available options for management. This paper explores some of the issues with the implementation of ST in NT farming systems. The impact of contrasting soil properties, the timing of the tillage and the prevailing climate exert a strong influence on the success of ST. Decisions around timing of tillage are very complex and depend on the interactions between soil water content and the purpose for which the ST is intended. The soil needs to be at the right water content before executing any tillage, while the objective of the ST will influence the frequency and type of tillage implement used. The use of ST in long-term NT systems will depend on factors associated with system costs and profitability, soil health and environmental impacts. For many farmers maintaining farm profitability is a priority, so economic considerations are likely to be a primary factor dictating adoption. However, impacts on soil health and environment, especially the risk of erosion and the loss of soil carbon, will also influence a grower’s choice to adopt ST, as will the impact on soil moisture reserves in rainfed cropping systems.
Keyword Herbicide-resistant weeds
Nutrient stratification
Soil- and stubble-borne diseases
Strategic tillage implements
Strategic tillage optimum time
Strategic tillage purpose
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Critical review of research, literature review, critical commentary
Collections: School of Agriculture and Food Sciences
Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation
Official 2016 Collection
 
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