Conservation tillage


Conservation tillage

What is conservation tillage?

Planting without ploughing, a revolutionary cultivation technique in which the fields are not ploughed. "This concept sprang directly from the recognition that mechanical ploughing is contributing to land degradation on a massive scale.

Using conservation tillage, farmers leave crop residues on their fields after harvest, instead of ploughing them in or burning them off. They plant new crops with specially designed planters. These guide the seeds down into a slot in the soil underneath the protective layer of mulch formed by rotting residues.


Conservation agriculture is often referred to as a "win-win" situation, and it has benefits on many levels. For the farmer, there is


  • reduction in labour, time, farm power,
  • less wear and tear on tractors, hence less expenses for repairs,
  • more stable yields, particularly in dry years, due to improved water infiltration,
  • better trafficability in the fields,
  • gradually increasing yields with decreasing inputs,
  • increased profit.


At the environmental and community level, the benefits include:


  • more constant water flows in rivers and re-emergence of dried wells, because of better rainwater absorption,
  • cleaner water due to less erosion,
  • less flooding,
  • less impact from extreme climatic situations (hurricanes, drought, etc.)
  • strengthened food security.


Conservation agriculture also has significant benefits at the global level, including:


  • carbon sequestration in the organic matter accumulated in the soil from the crop residues and cover crops - the global potential of conservation agriculture in carbon sequestration could equal the human-made increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere,
  • less leaching of soil nutrients or chemicals into the groundwater,
  • less pollution of the water,
  • practically no soil erosion (erosion is less than soil build-up)
  • recharge of aquifers through better infiltration,
  • less fuel use in agriculture.

More information regarding conservation tillage - Soil tillage in Africa: needs and challenges - Climate tech Wiki