Strategic tillage in conservation agricultural systems of north-eastern Australia: why, where, when and how?

Dang, Yash Pal and Balzer, Anna and Crawford, Mark and Rincon-Florez, Vivian and Liu, Hongwei and Melland, Alice Rowena and Antille, Diogenes and Kodur, Shreevatsa and Bell, Michael John and Whish, Jeremy Patrick Milroy and Lai, Yunru and Seymour, Nikki and Costa Carvalhais, Lilia and Schenk, Peer (2017) Strategic tillage in conservation agricultural systems of north-eastern Australia: why, where, when and how? Environmental Science and Pollution Research. ISSN 0944-1344

Abstract

Farmers often resort to an occasional tillage (strategic
tillage (ST)) operation to combat constraints of no-tillage
(NT) farming systems. There are conflicting reports regarding impacts of ST and a lack of knowledge around when, where and how ST is implemented to maximise its benefits without impacting negatively on soil and environment.We established 14 experiments during 2012–2015 on farms with long-term history of continuous NT to (i) quantify the associated risks and benefits to crop productivity, soil and environmental health and (ii) explore key factors that need to be considered in decisions to implement ST in an otherwise NT system. Results showed that introduction of ST reduced weed populations and improved crop productivity and profitability in the first year after tillage, with no impact in subsequent 4 years. Soil properties were not impacted in Vertosols; however, Sodosols and Dermosols suffered short-term negative soil health impacts (e.g. increased bulk density). A Sodosol and a Dermosol also posed higher risks of runoff and associated loss of nutrients and sediment during intense rainfall after ST. The ST reduced plant available water in the short term, which could result in unreliable sowing opportunities for the following crop especially in semi-arid climate that prevails in north-eastern Australia. The results show that generally, there were no significant differences in crop productivity and soil health between tillage implements and tillage frequencies between ST and NT. The study suggests that ST can be a viable strategy to manage constraints of NT systems, with few short-term soil and environmental costs and some benefits such as short-term farm productivity and profitability and reduced reliance on herbicides.


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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Published online 7 April 2017. Files associated with this item cannot be displayed due to copyright restrictions.
Faculty / Department / School: No Faculty
Date Deposited: 23 Oct 2017 23:51
Last Modified: 29 Jan 2018 05:32
Uncontrolled Keywords: crop productivity; environmental impact; no tillage; soil health; strategic tillage; conservation agriculture
Fields of Research : 07 Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences > 0701 Agriculture, Land and Farm Management > 070107 Farming Systems Research
09 Engineering > 0999 Other Engineering > 099901 Agricultural Engineering
07 Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences > 0701 Agriculture, Land and Farm Management > 070101 Agricultural Land Management
Socio-Economic Objective: D Environment > 96 Environment > 9609 Land and Water Management > 960904 Farmland, Arable Cropland and Permanent Cropland Land Management
Identification Number or DOI: 10.1007/s11356-017-8937-1
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/31266

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