Reduced tillage systems have been argued to provide several potential benefits to soil, environment and to farm incomes. In England, while many farms have partially adopted such practices, a large proportion of arable farmers do not undertake reduced tillage in any form. This paper analyses the rationale for and uptake of different cultivation techniques, including analysis of the barriers to adoption of reduced tillage, aiming to benefit policymakers and researchers and increase the spread of smart agricultural practices. Based on a postal questionnaire, we estimated that 47.6% of English arable land is cultivated using minimum‐tillage and 7% under no‐tillage. As farm size increased, so did the probability of reduced tillage uptake. Furthermore, farms growing combinable crops were more likely to utilize reduced tillage approaches than other farm types. Soil type, weed control and weather conditions were noted as the main drivers for ‘strategic’ and ‘rotational’ ploughing, constraining continuous reduced tillage use. To effect greater reduced tillage uptake, greater communication between researchers and farmers is needed to facilitate the implementation of sustainable soil management solutions, supported by current legislation permitting responsible herbicide use in arable production. Financial support to access reduced tillage machinery may also be required for farmers operating smaller holdings. Adopting reduced tillage is a continuous learning process requiring ongoing training and information gathering; supporting a network of reduced tillage ‘farmer champions’ would facilitate practical knowledge exchange, allow farmers to observe soil improvements, understand transition phase barriers and ultimately encourage increased reduced tillage uptake.
Soil Use and Management – Wiley
Published: Jan 1, 2020
Keywords: ; ; ; ;
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