Minimum Tillage in the Wet Tropics

In this video: Learn about the benefits of changing from intensive to minimal tillage, types of equipment you can use on your farm

The traditional approach to tillage is called intensive tillage. It uses equipment that aggressively works the soil to create soil structure. It also involves multiple passes across the paddock in the season. It helps you to achieve three things in the short term:

  • Soil structure - or tilth, so that your crops can establish and grow.
  • Weed management
  • Controls trash or cover crop residues in the paddock.

But in the mid to long term, intensive tillage leads to soil problems. It pulverises soil, which means you lose your soil structure and end up needing more tillage to get it back.

A minimum till approach uses equipment that is much less aggressive on soil structure.

The benefits of changing to minimum tillage

  • Less soil disturbance – this means betters soil structure, better root volume, better nutrient management and better aeration and drainage.
  • Less horsepower, labor and machinery costs in the long term

There's no one-size-fits-all when it comes to minimum till. It'll depend on your farm and your soil type as to what will work.

Tips for implementing minimal tillage on your farm

  • Implement controlled traffic farming first
  • Work out your row spacing
  • Customise your equipment
  • Don’t disturb wet soils
  • Grow a good cover crop so you don’t need to work you soil so much afterwards.
  • Watch your timing - don’t let the cover crops dry the soil out too much. You might have to get out into the paddock at times of year that you're not used to.

If you want to learn more about minimum tillage and how to implement it on your place then get in touch with your local WTSIP Extension Officer.

Watch the next video in this series: Controlled Traffic Farming in the Wet Tropics