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Reduced tillage in organic farming Lessons from the TILMAN-ORG project and beyond

Amos, Dominic (2021) Reduced tillage in organic farming Lessons from the TILMAN-ORG project and beyond. ORC Factsheet, no. 5, Crop Diversity & Agronomy, Organic Research Centre .

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Summary

Reduced tillage can lead to improvements in soil health and enhance ecosystem services including carbon sequestration, reducing soil erosion, improving soil fertility and biodiversity, whilst reducing CO2 and N2O emissions from soils and decreasing energy usage. However, some consider it incompatible with organic farming stemming from concerns around weed control, nutrient availability, and ley incorporation, as well as insufficient equipment and knowledge to make the system work. Organic Research Centre (ORC) took part in the "Reduced tillage and green manures for sustainable organic cropping systems – TILMAN-ORG" project where these issues were investigated.
The results of this project showed that organic farmers can consider reduced tillage through a pragmatic site-specific approach: they can strategically employ occasional shallow inversion tillage or even shallow non-inversion tillage to realise some of the benefits of reduced tillage without significant yield loss. Specifically, the field trials conducted by ORC showed shifts in the weed communities, improvements in crop establishment and only moderate effects on crop yield over three cropping cycles.
Further research and development needs that were identified related to synchronisation of nutrient supply and demand, machinery improvements and adaptation of farm-specific reduced tillage systems to keep weeds controlled in the long-term. ORC is currently exploring combining reduced tillage with green manures, to improve nitrogen provision and weed control as a promising option for UK arable cropping systems. Adopting living mulches, i.e., cover crops grown simultaneously with the main cash crop, can potentially enable further reductions in tillage, or even organic no-till systems.


EPrint Type:Working paper
Keywords:reduced tillage, green manures, weed control, soil health, nitrogen provision, living mulch, TILMAN-ORG
Agrovoc keywords:
Language
Value
URI
English
tillage depth -> ploughing depth
http://aims.fao.org/aos/agrovoc/c_d349db98
English
soil health -> soil quality
http://aims.fao.org/aos/agrovoc/c_a9645d28
English
green manures
http://aims.fao.org/aos/agrovoc/c_3375
English
weed control
http://aims.fao.org/aos/agrovoc/c_8345
English
nitrogen
http://aims.fao.org/aos/agrovoc/c_5192
English
cover crops -> cover plants
http://aims.fao.org/aos/agrovoc/c_1936
Subjects: Soil > Soil quality
Crop husbandry > Soil tillage
Crop husbandry > Weed management
Research affiliation: European Union > CORE Organic II > TILMAN-ORG
UK > Organic Research Centre (ORC)
H2020 or FP7 Grant Agreement Number:249667
Deposited By: Caldbeck, Miss Janie
ID Code:43401
Deposited On:09 Mar 2022 13:58
Last Modified:09 Mar 2022 13:58
Document Language:English
Status:Published
Refereed:Not peer-reviewed

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