Fact Sheet #12 – July 2004
Chris McDonough, Rural Solutions SA
Traditionally, Mallee farming systems have relied heavily on cultivation. This has often left paddocks extremely vulnerable to wind erosion. Mallee Sustainable Farming Inc. has been able to demonstrate the success of well managed intensive farming in low rainfall areas, without the need to cultivate paddocks.
Many Mallee farmers are moving to No-Till, leading to productive farming systems that:
• greatly reduce tractor hours;
• minimise the risk of wind erosion; and
• improve soil fertility and soil health.
No-Till has allowed for more timely sowing on minimal moisture, and has given farmers the flexibility to delay crop planting decisions whilst maintaining paddock stubble cover. Sowing into stubbles has also made it possible to grow alternative crops, such as pulses and canola, with increased safety.
Success with No-Till is more complex than
just purchasing the latest machine. It’s a
whole farming system, and good agronomy
is the key.
Traditionally tillage has produced numerous benefits, including:
• control of root diseases, e.g. rhizoctonia;
• burial and breakdown of residues, reducing some crown and leaf disease;
• control of summer & early season weeds, and stimulating weed germination;
• mineralisation of nutrients such as nitrogen (N) for crop establishment;
• paddock levelling and creating soil tilth;
• incorporation of herbicides; and
• trash reduction for machinery fl ow.
Moving to a No-Till system needs alternative agronomic management strategies in place to ensure all of these issues are covered, while maximising the benefits this system offers.