Shallow Plowing as a Questionable Farm Practice

Ines Marjanovic

Agronomy Expert

Quality soil is the most valuable farm resource. In aiming to reach full soil potential, farmers must consider a few important aspects of soil preparation practices. The best soil preparation practice is frequently questioned. The determination of the best preparation practice should depend on agroecological properties of the specific area as well as crop requirements.


Shallow plowing is a soil preparation practice that includes tillage at a depth of 10-20 cm (4-8 in). The main purpose of shallow tillage is to prepare the soil for a new farm season. It's usually done a few weeks after the very shallow plowing.

Together with shallow plowing, a farmer can add organic or mineral fertilizers to improve the soil fertility. In adding the mineral fertilizers before the sowing, it's important to keep in mind that the formulation of nutrients in fertilizers should be of equal proportion. (For example: 15:15:15).



The Benefits of Shallow Plowing

 Farmers who use shallow plowing within their farm management secure benefits such as:

  • Improved incorporation of crop residues, which also improves soil microbiological activity
  • Descending the process of microbiological activity deeper in the soil
  • Encouraging of weeds and volunteer seeds to emerge, which facilitates their destroying
  • Destroying of already emerged weeds.


Think Twice When Considering Shallow Plowing

Surely, there are a few benefits of shallow tillage as a soil improvement practice. However, it's gradually becoming replaced with reduced soil tillage.

With the use of heavy machinery, each walkthrough burdens the soil. Consequently, heavy machinery and tillage can lead to soil compaction and erosion. In this regard, shallow plowing becomes excessive soil preparation practice which distorts the soil structure.

With the use of modern farm machinery, farmers can easily reduce the necessity for walkthroughs on the fields by combining different machines. Reduced tillage will produce a wide range of solutions, all of which will incorporate tillage and sowing into one farm practice.


Finally, it's up to the farmer to decide which soil preparation practice is the best for his crop and area. However, farmers who take into consideration all advantages and disadvantages of each farm practice can use this information to make decisions appropriate to their agroclimatic and crop requirements.




Text sources: Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences


Image sources: Kelly Harrows || Kenney Farm