1. Home
  2. Farm Mechanization

Advantages and Disadvantages of No-Till Farming

Did you know that soil tilling is one of the biggest contributors to soil degradation? No-tilling farming is a technique for growing crops without tilling the soil. Experts believe that the benefits of no-tilling outweigh those of tillage-based systems.

Aarushi Chadha
No-tilling is also an agricultural technique of preparing the soil for growing vegetables which has been around for centuries
No-tilling is also an agricultural technique of preparing the soil for growing vegetables which has been around for centuries

Tilling is an agricultural practice of preparing the soil by mechanical agitation. However, the practice of tilling fractures the soil disrupts its structure and accelerates surface runoff and soil erosion. It also reduces crop residue, which allows soil particles to easily dislodge and splash away, leading to soil runoff and erosion. Generally, tillage is done to remove weeds and create a flat seed bed. It is an ancient practice that has been around for centuries.

On the other hand, no-tilling is also an agricultural technique of preparing the soil for growing vegetables which has been around for centuries. However, it does not involve disturbing the soil. No-tillage practices lessen the probability of soil erosion in sandy and dry soils on sloping terrain. It increases soil retention of organic matter, water absorption, and nutrient recycling. It can also save time and money compared to conventional tillage.

Advantages of No-Tilling Farming

1. No-tilling promotes carbon sequestration- Soil naturally stores carbon. Ploughing and other tilling practices allow carbon, in the form of organic material, to rise to the soil’s surface. Although this practice helps the plant absorb carbon it also exposes the carbon present in the soil to the oxygen in the atmosphere. The oxygen then transforms into carbon dioxide and contributes to greenhouse gas emissions.

Studies indicate that no-tilling keeps carbon in the soil, which reduces the need for chemical fertilizers and naturally enriches the soil’s biodiversity and sequesters global annual greenhouse gas emissions. Along with other regenerative agricultural practices, no-tilling can establish climate-resilient farms.

2. Cost-effective- No-tilling practices save money on fuel and equipment costs, along with labour costs. No-tilling practices can save the farmer valuable time that they would have otherwise spent sitting on the tractor and wasting pricey fuel.

3. Improves soil structure and reduces soil erosion- Tilling the soil disturbs its natural structure and disperses carbon, which is meant to promote the growth and development of crops, into the air. No-tilling practices help the soil retain essential nutrients and even minimize the compaction of the soil. Since the soil is less compacted, no-tilling practices allow for the better movement of water, crop roots, and soil organisms. No tilling also reduces soil erosion.

4. Saves water- Since the crop residue from the previous crop is left on the surface rather than being ploughed, they help to form additional soil components that allow the field to absorb water more easily, and reduces water runoff, and evaporation.

Disadvantages of No-Tilling Farming

1. Increased use of weedicides- Weed continues to grow alongside the crop on the field and needs to be removed either manually or through the use of chemical weedicides. Continuous use of weedicides can be detrimental to the health of the animals and humans that feed on the crop. The chemicals present in the weedicide are also disastrous for the soil and pollute the air and water bodies.

2. Increases risk of plant diseases- No-tilling practices increase the risk of transporting plant diseases from one crop to the next crop because crop residue isn’t incorporated into the soil after the harvest of the first crop. Crop residue can carry several diseases and pass them down to the following crop. However, this issue can be solved by rotating with crops that are not susceptible to similar diseases.

3. Slow Process- The farmer is not able to reap the benefits of no-tilling farming instantly. This is because the soil will take time to regain its structure. No-tilling farming also restricts the farmer from using the field for creating grass crops or using it for livestock grazing during the off-season.

Take a Quiz on Green Revolution Take a quiz
Share your comments
FactCheck in Agriculture Project

Subscribe to our Newsletter. You choose the topics of your interest and we'll send you handpicked news and latest updates based on your choice.

Subscribe Newsletters