Why You’re On The Right Track With No-Till

The long-term conversion to no-till could have more impact than any other innovation on Third World food production.

While no-till was used on 17.5 percent of all ground in the United States and made up 47.9 percent of all acres that were farmed with conservation tillage last year, the adoption of this reduced tillage practice still has a long way to go.

In South America, no-till accounts for 95 percent of conservation tilled acres and makes up as much as 52 percent of all land farmed in Paraguay.

Rolf Derpsch, an official with the GTZ Soil Conservation Project at the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock in Paraguay, says more effectively managing crop residues and soil carbon are key factors in expanding no-till acres around the world.

Residues Are Critical

“Unfortunately, we have concentrated too much and too long on not tilling the soil instead of concentrating on crop residues as the main tool for no-till management,” he says. He firmly believes the widespread conversion to no-till in Third World countries could do more for worldwide food production than any other agricultural innovation in history.

Taking climate and socio-economic factors into account, Derpsch says there’s a tremendous potential to bring no-tillage technology to Third World countries. The Eastern European countries seem to have the biggest potential for rapid no-till growth, while more information is needed for Africa and Asia.

Although the largest area under no-tillage is found in the United States, no-till is only used on 17.5 percent of the total cultivated area, compared to 21 percent in Brazil, 32 percent in Argentina and 52 percent in Paraguay, the…

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