From experience: tillage

Careful and timely tillage adapted to the location in question are the basic prerequisites for a successful harvest. Tillage is becoming increasingly important, especially considering the changes many countries are making to the Fertiliser Ordinance and the discontinuation of pesticides.


Optimum soil conditions:


Not compacted







Unfavourable soil conditions:

Compaction in the topsoil or subsoil results in


Limited root growth

Erosion and silting up

Nutrient deficiencies

Significantly lower yields


Tillage stages

Tillage usually takes place in three stages which must be adapted to the local soil conditions and the crops being planted. With the right equipment, some of these stages can even be completed in a single pass.

1. Stubble cultivation


The top layer of soil should be loosened shortly after the harvest. This process is used to incorporate crop residues into the soil. Stubble cultivation encourages volunteer seeds and weeds to germinate, limits capillary action, and distributes crop residues evenly.


Equipment used:


- (Flat) cultivators

- Disc harrows

- Straw harrows


2. Basic soil cultivation


The soil is loosened to ensure unhindered root growth in the next crop. A distinction is made between reversing and non-reversing methods.


  • The reversing method (plough) is the most intense. The topsoil is disturbed to a depth of up to 35 cm. However, field hygiene is significantly improved.
  • Non-reversing methods are less intense as the soil is loosened and mixed. This helps to protect the water balance.


Equipment used:

- Ploughs

- (Deep) cultivators

- Subsoilers

- Spading machines

3. Seedbed preparation


A so-called stratified seedbed is created. This means that the equipment allows the soil below the seed to be reconsolidated to ensure the water supply. The aim is also to ensure a high fine soil content at the level where the seeds are sown, and a coarse structure on the surface.


Equipment used:


- Seedbed harrows

- Rotary harrows







Special method: mulch tillage (conservation tillage)


Compared with ploughing, mulch tillage is a slightly shallower, non-reversing tillage method. The plant mulch - i.e. the biomass from a catch crop or straw from the previous crop - remains on the soil surface before and after sowing. Sowing can take place as part of the mulch tillage method with or without seedbed preparation.


Equipment used:


- Mulch seed drills





Special method: strip-till method/strip tillage


The strip-till method involves loosening the soil in narrow strips. The rest of the soil remains unworked. This combines the advantages of conventional methods. Seeding is carried out in parallel or in the prepared strips.


Equipment used:


- Strip-till cultivators




Special method: no-till method


The no-till method follows the principle of fixed soil management. No basic soil cultivation and seedbed preparation measures are used. As sowing takes place in the unworked stubble of the previous crop, the seed drills should be equipped with cutting discs.


Equipment used:


- Mulch seed drills with cutting discs






Aims of tillage


Favourable impact on the soil structure

Preservation of humus content

Conservation of soil life and water balance

Reduction or prevention of harmful soil compaction

Reduction or prevention of soil erosion

Regulation of competitive and harmful plant growth



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