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Jan 19

Crop yields down on no-till: Crop yields down on no-till

A MAJOR review of the research literature on no-till farming has found that it reduces crop yields by about 5 per cent.
Nanjing Night Net

But the review, published in the international journal Nature, concluded that under certain conditions, no-till farming farming practised in combination with stubble retention and crop rotation can produce equivalent or even greater yields than conventional farming.

Agriculture researchers from the US, China and Europe collaborated in a meta-analysis – a comprehensive review of 621 research papers – of the productivity limits of conservation techniques.

One of its most significant conclusions of the study, titled Productivity limits and potentials of the principles of conservation agriculture, is that combining no-till farming with stubble retention and crop rotation is particularly beneficial in dry regions, where grain crops are grown with natural rainfall.

These three strategies have become almost standard practice in the Victorian Mallee, and dryland farming regions across the Australian wheat belt, where they have helped to achieve a substantial reduction in wind erosion from bare paddocks.

The study did not consider other benefits of no-till agriculture, but said it clearly provided environmental and social benefits.

The authors suggested that the success of no-till farming in dryland regions could become an important strategy for climate-change adaptation in regions that are likely to become drier because of global warming.

But the authors warned of the need for caution if conservation farming is extended into regions subjected to a drying climate regime.

They said it is likely to be difficult to implement the supporting practices of stubble retention and crop rotation in resource-poor regions dominated by farmers with small holdings.

In those circumstances, they say, there is a risk that the shift to zero-till farming, in the absence of the other techniques, will result in yield losses.

They nominated sub-Saharan Africa and eastern Asia as regions where a shift to no-till farming alone, might actually reduce yields.

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This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.