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

Dang, Yash Pal ORCID: 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 Carvalhais, Lilia Costa and Schenk, Peer (2017) Strategic tillage in conservation agricultural systems of north-eastern Australia: why, where, when and how? Environmental Science and Pollution Research, 25 (2). pp. 1000-1015. ISSN 0944-1344


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: Permanent restricted access to Published version in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: No Faculty
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: No Faculty
Date Deposited: 22 Mar 2021 06:35
Last Modified: 31 Mar 2021 05:58
Uncontrolled Keywords: Macroptilium Bracteatum; soil; organic carbon; stubble
Fields of Research (2008): 07 Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences > 0701 Agriculture, Land and Farm Management > 070199 Agriculture, Land and Farm Management not elsewhere classified
05 Environmental Sciences > 0503 Soil Sciences > 050305 Soil Physics
Fields of Research (2020): 41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4106 Soil sciences > 410605 Soil physics
30 AGRICULTURAL, VETERINARY AND FOOD SCIENCES > 3002 Agriculture, land and farm management > 300299 Agriculture, land and farm management not elsewhere classified
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