No-till Farming Management - Planting Without Plowing

Tanja Folnovic

Agronomy Expert

Plowing is a conventional way of mechanical seedbed preparation by breaking the soil and repairing its structure. Plowing turns the organic matter into the soil thus speeding up its decomposition and destroying weeds. The plowed fields get warmer faster, so farmers can start planting their crops earlier. Although there are many reasons to till farm fields, it also brings many challenges and costs to farmers. One of the main problems with plowing is the potential wind and water erosion of the soil. With no-till technology, last year’s organic matter is left on the surface and seeds are drilled directly into the soil without plowing. The organic matter from previous years helps hold the soil in place. Tilling of the soil also disrupts the weed's life cycle and the soil microorganisms which affect the soil health. Farmers thus need to decide if tillage harms the microorganisms that live in the soil.


Plant root penetration into the soil in intensive tillage and no-tillage method

No-till farming requires different skills to preserve higher yields; it combines various farming techniques, equipment, crop rotation practices, cover crops, fertilization and pesticide use to achieve better soil properties. Crop rotation practice eliminates soil weeds, pests, and diseases. By rotating the crops on a multi-year cycle, pests and disease occurrence will decrease due to reduced food supply. Cover crops are used to control weeds, increase nutrients in the soil and to pull mobile nutrients back to the soil surface from the lower layers by growing plants with long roots.


Clover as a cover crop in corn field

Benefits of No-till Techniques


Farming costs – farmers reduce labor, fuel, irrigation and machinery costs, and also improve soil function.

Crop residue – the greatest benefit of the no-till practice arises from the crop residues which stay intact. Crop residues from the previous years lie on the field surface, thus cooling it and increasing the soil moisture and limiting evaporation. Crop residue protects the soil from the damaging impact of raindrops and the wind and also serves as a source of carbon, the essential energy source for benefitting soil organisms.

Machinery – no-till planters make only a few passes which prevent soil compaction and surface crusting. This makes it easier for plants to sprout and grow deep roots. It results in very little disturbance to the soil and its organisms. There is also much less airborne dust created compared to conventional plowing techniques.


No-till planter

Healthy soil - no-till farming improves soil quality (soil function), carbon amounts and organic matter, thus protecting the soil from erosion, water evaporation, and structural breakdown. By preserving the natural environment, no-till fields often have larger and more beneficial insects and earthworms , and a better balance of the microbial community that can even resist disease outbreaks. Those organisms increase the soil's organic matter content and build its structure. In such an environment, plants develop deep roots which help plants survive droughts.

Agrivi Supports All Farming Techniques


Agrivi farm management software helps farmers organize a whole farm-life, allocate resources and perform all farm activities. It deals with various strategies and methods to keep a farm productive, sustainable, resistant and profitable. Farmers today need an easy-to-use but extensive system for managing farm activities, operational planning, optimization of performed work on the fields and financials. They also need the ability to track costs on different crops or fields and to monitor profits across the entire farming operation for easier processes and improved decision making. With Agrivi software, the farmer becomes equipped with a tool which puts all of his field work and paperwork under unified control which makes it simpler than ever. No matter which farming technique farmers performed, Agrivi software provides them with full support in the tracking of all their farm activities. Every field is different and farmers need to decide what works best for them and their operation. They mainly practice conventional, reduced or conservation tillage which are minimally disruptive techniques that leave much of the plant residue on the surface of the soil thereby helping to reduce erosion.

Manage every farming technique easily – use Agrivi.


Text sources: Iowa Agriculture Literacy Foundation || No Till Farmer

Image sources: Inter Seeder Technologies || Extension || No Till Farmer