"No-till" farming does not necessarily lead to herbicide use, if practiced properly

June 4, 2015


"The initial statement that no-tillage systems require more chemicals can be considered a misconception. The problem with systems that use higher levels of inputs is not no-till, but other unsustainable practices, such as monocropping and exposed soil surface. In fact, no-till is a necessary, but not a completely sufficient condition to arrive at truly sustainable agriculture eventually. No-till as a practice has to be complemented with other practices to arrive at such true sustainability of a farming system in which the environmental footprint, be it from soil management or the use of agrochemical inputs, is smaller than the recovery capacity of the natural ecosystem. This can only be achieved in the absence of soil tillage, but it also requires a very careful and moderate use of agrochemicals, which will lead to a reduction in their use. While both systems, tillage-based as well as no-till systems can be operated at high as well as at low external input levels, the well managed no-till systems provide in the long term better chances to reduce the use of external inputs to levels even below the ones of well managed tillage based systems, without sacrificing production."Source: Theodor Friedrich and Amir Kassam, “No-Till Farming and the Environment: Do No-Till Systems Require More Chemicals?” Outlooks on Pest Management 23, no. 4 (2012): 156, accessed November 17, 2014, DOI: 10.1564/23aug02.

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