What is reduced tillage?
Reduced tillage is any practice which reduces intensity, frequency, and/or area disturbed over time.
Reduced tillage practices take many forms. They can be applied at the farm scale, or fit in only a part of the rotation. How they take shape depends on farm size, field characteristics, available equipment and materials, skills, and labor.
What are some reduced tillage practices?
Continuous no-till — Small scale, intensive methods with no tillage year after year.
Semi-permanent/permanent beds — Tillage targeted to beds and field traffic restricted to between-bed areas, year after year (pathways managed with cultivation, mulch, or sod).
Shallow, non-inversion tillage — e.g. chisel plow, field cultivator
Strip/zone tillage — Tillage targeted to the planting row. e.g. subsoiler, Yeomans plow, zone building
Tarping — Applying plastic to soil and removing before planting.
Heavy mulching with organic materials — e.g. straw, hay, compost
Relay planting — Planting a cover crop directly into a vegetable crop.
Direct planting into cover crops — Planting a vegetable crop directly into killed, low-residue cover crops.
Cover crop mulching — Planting a vegetable crop into killed, high-residue cover crops (e.g. rye-vetch mulch)