No-tillage

Published: 22 January 2020
Last edited: 22 January 2020

The traditional technique of soil cultivation in Tajikistan using a plough or a disc for breaking and turning the soil's surface leads to a loss of fertility by the destruction of organic matter, reduced capacity for water retention and soil erosion, especially on slope areas. Therefore, soil cultivation within fields of rainfed annual crops should be limited to a minimum. In order to prevent the negative effects of the traditional cultivation methods, farmers are encouraged to apply the no-tillage or low tillage techniques. When applying the no-tillage technique, the soil is not disturbed as only a small slot is opened for collocating seeds and eventually fertilizer. When applying the low-tillage technique, the soil is cultivated superficially with discs but not turned at all as it occurs by ploughing. Both techniques can be applied by using a single axle (two-wheel hillside) tractors which are promoted by the project. No-tillage or low tillage must be carried out along contour lines on slope areas.

Classifications

Category
Sustainable financing
Scale of implementation
Local
Subnational
Phase of solution
Implementation

Enabling factors

  • Preparing the field with no-tillage or low tillage technique costs less than ploughing as less fuel is required.
  • The no-tillage technique increases the content of organic matter in the soil, thus fertility, water infiltration and retention capacity. 
  • Less seeds are required as these are collocated directly on the spot and not broadcasted as in the traditional technique.
  • The infestation by diseases is reduced as the plants are in line and the wind can blow better through the stand and dry the leaves after rain or dewfall.

Lessons learned

Nevertheless, the no-tillage technique requires specialized equipment which in many cases is still not available in the country, positive experiences were seen in other projects using single axle tractors equipped with no-tillage gear. For a better result and safety, the single axle tractor should be driven by an experienced operator and the owner of the field should clear the ground from stones.

Also, it should be noted that the no-tillage technique stimulates weed growth, at least for a couple of years, until a solid mulch layer can be built up to suppress the weeds. The use of herbicides should be avoided whenever possible. Weed control during this period should instead be implemented through hand weeding or row weeding using horses, donkeys or tractors.