Several No-Till Legends explore the impacts of tillage on soil health and the future of food production in a new research paper advocating for the adoption of no-till and other conservation agriculture practices.

Rolf Derpsch, Amir Kassam, Don Reicosky, Theodor Friedrich, Ademir Calegari, Gottlieb Basch, Emilio Gonzalez-Sanchez and Danilo Rheinheimer dos Santos authored "Nature's laws of declining soil productivity and Conservation Agriculture," which was published in the March 2024 issue of Soil Security. 

The article aims to understand how nature manages resources, describe management of the living soil and its soil productivity, and use nature's laws as guidelines for the management. The authors say nature's three guidelines of continuous no or minimum soil disturbance, permanent biomass soil cover and biodiversity in crop rotations provide the foundation of the modern conservation agriculture (CA) movement. 

The negative impacts of tillage on soil health and function may appear inconsequential, the authors write, but their cumulative effects over time result in major soil degradation and loss in productivity. The paper outlines research showing the detrimental effects of tillage on living soil and the steps needed to implement no-till and other conservation agriculture practices to mitigate the damage.

"The major challenges of the new millennia are to grow food and other economic crops in adverse weather conditions to feed the billions of rural poor and to sustain food security," the authors write. "CA practices allow food growers to create an ideal subterranean home for soil microbes that, in turn, cycles and deliver nutrients to plants, improve numerous soil functions (including carbon and nutrient (fertility) cycling and water infiltration and storage, and increase the nutrient density of the food they produce — at far less economic and environmental cost than conventional tillage farming practices that continue to lead to soil and environmental degradation."

Read the full paper here.

Related Content

Which Countries Have the Most No-Till Acres?

No-Till’s List of Legends

Information Revolution Needed to Promote No-Till Worldwide