Zero- tillage / Pfumvudza


Soils hold the greatest carbon store on the planet, and they are particularly vulnerable to changes in land use and agricultural management methods. Indeed, soils could provide an important ecological service by functioning as a carbon sink, potentially reducing the effects of climate change.

Planting crops into soil that has remained untilled following the previous crop's harvest is referred to as no-tillage. When it comes to this practice no-tillage, it's important to know WHEN and HOW it's done. The "when" mainly refers to the soil's moisture level. Both environmental and tillage variables are considered in conservation tillage. The approach entails opening a narrow slot that is only wide and deep enough to provide adequate seed coverage and at least 30% mulch saturation. Permanent, ongoing no-tillage should be followed, with agricultural leftovers or green manure cover crops remaining on the soil. After sowing, crop leftovers should be left undisturbed on the soil surface.

 

Tillage has led the way for one of many issues that have a significant influence on climate change, including rapid soil erosion and degradation, which has resulted in the current food shortfall and crop failure in most of Africa.

There are a number of reasons for adopting no-tillage:

  • Reduction in the cost production
  • Less labor and far power
  • Up to 60% fuel savings
  • Reduction in machinery capital

 

Farmers are able to plant effectively in good time because the focus on land preparation is typically neither extensive nor subjective, allowing for timely agricultural operations. Conservation agriculture's capacity to boost yields is based on timely planting, which contributes up to 40% of the yield.

Benefits of Zero tillage

  • Prevents soil erosion
  • Prevents soil compaction
  • Preservation of soil structure, soil aggregates, and macropores
  • Improvements of soil moisture and water use efficiency through mulching
  • Fewer inputs of fuel, energy, and labour

Before the adoption of the no-till system the following factors must be considered:

  • Farmers should improve their knowledge about the system (especially weed control).
  • Obtain proper orientation on their utilization. The implements so acquired should match the available farm power
  • It is advisable to start with a small portion/ section and advance with time
  • Use of crop rotation and green manure crops are basic in a no-tillage system
  • Produce the highest amount of mulch cover possible
  • Learn constantly and stay up to date with new developments

Minimum tillage practices include:

Dibble stick planting

Planting stick or machete can be used to create holes to plant the seed in an un-ploughed field with stubble/crop residue. The cut hardwood stick from the bush is sharpened at one end and used to make planting holes. The holes are made in lines at evenly spaced intervals that make it easier to weed and apply fertiliser or manure.

Disc-plant (stubble-harrowing)

This tool is used to loosen the soil, chop up crop residues, and cut weeds. Afterward planting is done without further soil disturbance and the crop residues are left on the surface

Strip and spot tillage

This involves scraping out shallow planting holes in un-ploughed soil, sowing the seed in the holes, then covering

Ripping

A ripper is a chisel-shaped implement pulled by animals or a tractor. It breaks up surface crusts and opens a narrow slot or furrow in the soil, about 5 - 10 cm deep. Many conservation tillage systems use a ripper with a single chisel fixed to a plough or ridger frame. In ripping, only shallow parallel furrows are cut using a ripper without disturbing the soil between the planting rows. The ripper should cut regular lines to facilitate subsequent weeding with ox-drawn weeders. Planting is usually done at the same time. The distance between the furrows depends on the recommended spacing for the crop. Ripping can reduce or eliminate the need for ploughing.

 

The promotion of less intensive tillage practices and no-tillage (the absence of mechanical soil disturbance) aims to mitigate negative impacts on soil quality and to preserve soil organic carbon

 

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