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Tillage system

Tillage system is a set of scientifically justified methods of soil treatment, consistently performed during the cultivation of a crop or fallow field of crop rotation to ensure optimal soil conditions for plant growth and development.

Tillage systems regulate soil regimes and phytosanitary conditions, increase the thickness of the arable layer, and prevent the development of erosion. Tillage methods may consist of one or more technological operations, for example, chiseling allows loosening, crumbling and partially mixing the soil.

The tillage system determines the cultivation culture of the field and, consequently, the level of fertility and crop yields.

Types of tillage systems

Depending on the purpose of tillage systems can be divided into:

  • main;
  • pre-sowing;
  • post-sowing, on care of the crop.

The choice of techniques that make up a particular system of tillage is determined by landscape conditions, type and condition of soil, zonal climatic features, weediness of fields, preceding crops and their biological characteristics, fertilizer system in the crop rotation. It should provide optimal timing and high quality of work.

Currently the following systems of mechanical processing are used:

Tillage systems for specific crops are combined into technological complexes or systems of tillage in the rotation.

According to the method of main treatment of certain crops systems are divided into:

  • moldboard,
  • non-moldboard,
  • combined,
  • minimum,
  • combined, include two or more methods of tillage.

For example, if the rotation is dominated by moldboard as well as chisel tillage, the system is called the moldboard-chisel system. If flat-cutting predominates in the rotation and alternates with the moldboard, the system is called flat-cutting-moldboard.

All systems of tillage for individual crops are inextricably linked with each other in the rotation and based on a scientifically sound combination of deep and shallow, moldboard and no-moldboard and other types of tillage in each field, for a particular crop. Taking into account the level of fertility, weediness of fields and other conditions determine the possibility of reducing the depth and number of main tillage, if there is a risk of erosion, soil protection tillage is used.

Depth is the key parameter of tillage, which affects the incorporation of fertilizers, seeds and vegetative organs of weeds, the quality of crumbling. Depending on the depth, a distinction is made between:

  • surface – to a depth of up to 8 cm;
  • shallow – to a depth of 8 to 16 cm;
  • normal (medium) – to a depth of 16 to 24 cm;
  • deep – to a depth of 24 to 40 cm;
  • plantage – to a depth of more than 40 cm.

Building a tillage system

Tillage systems for specific crops in a crop rotation are interrelated due to the fact that tillage for the preceding crops significantly affects the features of soil preparation for the following ones. Therefore, all tillage systems for individual crops are combined into technological complexes or systems of tillage in crop rotations. Various combinations of deep and shallow, moldboard, no-moldboard and flat-cut tillage are used in the crop rotation.

Scientific data on the reaction of crops to the depth of main tillage in crop rotations and the thickness of the arable layer show the need for a shallow tillage system, which is due to the alternation of plants with different thickness and depth of root system penetration, use of moisture, nutrients and their impact on fertility reproduction.

The following principles underlie the construction of tillage system in the landscape farming crop rotations:

  • the principle of varying depth of tillage in the crop rotation;
  • principle of minimization of soil cultivation;
  • principle of soil protection expediency and ecological adaptability of tillage methods and technologies.

On complex slopes with contour organization of the territory, tillage and sowing are carried out along the horizontal relief so that ridges and rows of plants were located across the slope, thus preventing water runoff and soil washout.

Building the system of tillage in crop rotations should take into account the previous crops, the depth of previous tillage and the need to deepen the tilled layer, the condition of the field surface, such as its stoniness, soil moisture, the number and species composition of weeds.

The principle of different depths of tillage in the crop rotation

The principle of different depth of tillage in the rotation substantiates the need for alternation of deep, shallow and surface tillage, taking into account the characteristics of the agricultural landscape, biological requirements of crops, their responsiveness to the depth of tillage and the thickness of the arable layer. For example, crops with a fibrous root system with its predominant location in the upper layers and insufficient use of deep soil layers, poorly respond to deep tillage. Therefore, the depth of tillage when placing these crops in crop rotations with grasses, cereals, etc., especially on fields weakly clogged with perennial weeds, is up to 10-12 cm.

Crops with a tap root system (legumes, forages, and row crops), on the other hand, respond well to deep tillage. They quite effectively use the sub-soil layers loosened during deep tillage. For this reason, the system of tillage in the rotation is based on periodic alternation of different-depth tilling, chisel and other tillage. Different-depth tillage allows to loosen the “plough pan” well, and to cover the seeds and vegetative organs of weed plants reproduction.

The principle of minimizing tillage

The principle of minimizing tillage is applicable primarily on well-cultivated, highly fertile soils with optimal agrophysical properties. Such soils include chernozems, chestnut, dark gray and well-cultivated sod-podzolic soils.

On such soils, the number and depth of tillage can be reduced to a minimum, and herbicides can be used to control weeds. Shallow and surface treatments are effective for winter and spring cereals, as well as intermediate crops. Minimal tillage also includes no-tillage.

The main directions of minimum tillage include:

  • reducing the number and depth of the main, pre-sowing and inter-row tillage, replacing deep tillage with surface and shallow tillage using wide-cut implements.
  • Combination of several technological operations.
  • The use of herbicides instead of mechanical treatments.
  • Mulching the soil with straw or green mass of green manure.
  • Grassing of low-yielding soils at risk of erosion.

The best quality of pre-sowing tillage of previously ploughed soil is provided by complex units, such as RVK-3,6, RVK-5,4, VIP-5,6, VPN-5,6, VP-8 and others. In the absence of plowing – milling machines and milling cultivators KFG-3,6, KA-3,6 and others.

The use of combined machines and implements with different working bodies in combination with mulching with straw and crop residues expands the possibilities of minimization, reducing the coefficient of intensity to 0,46-0,56, which is especially important on erosion-prone lands.

Scientific evidence shows high efficiency of minimization which allows to reduce the number of passes of equipment on the field, reduce the time of work performance, increase labor productivity by 1,5-2 times, reduce energy costs by 30%. For example, the reduction of the depth of the main cultivation for winter crops from 20 to 10-12 cm reduces the consumption of diesel fuel by 7-10 l/ha.

Minimization of tillage also has negative results: weed infestation of fields and plant infestation by pests and diseases increases. Prolonged surface and shallow tillage leads to differentiation of fertility of the upper and lower layers, accumulation of humus and nutrients only in the upper 10-cm cultivated soil layer and nitrogen depletion and excessive compaction of the lower nontilled layer.

Principle of soil protection expediency and ecological adaptability of tillage practices and technologies

The principle of soil-protective expediency and ecological adaptability of tillage methods and technologies is aimed at prevention of erosion processes and soil protection, reduction of the negative impact of erosion on the soil and the environment to acceptable levels.

The principle is based on the ecological assessment and selection of the soil tillage method with high anti-erosion efficiency. Thus, the soil-protective system of the main tillage in a crop rotation consisting of the mouldboard tillage with slitting, deepening of the arable layer, non-moldboard of different-depth or chisel tillage is the most efficient on the slopes of the Non Black Earth zone with a slope of 3-5°. It is advisable to use perennial grasses on slopes of more than 7°.

In steppe agro-landscapes, the tillage system is based on non-moldboard, flat-cutting, mulching with the use of loosening, but not turning working tools such as paraplau, SibIME racks, and flat-cutters with 70-80% of stubble retained on the soil surface. Mulching eliminates soil overheating in summer, promotes accumulation and preservation of soil moisture, and prevents erosion.

Intensive annual soil loosening disturbs the dynamic equilibrium in the soil-plant-atmosphere ecological system. Increased aeration activates the processes of humus decomposition, destroys soil structure and increases unproductive losses of nutrients, Thus, unproductive losses of organic carbon in the formation of crops are 40-50%. The use of non-moldboard tillage reduces this figure to 25-30%, which positively affects the balance of organic matter and increases the anti-erosion resistance of the soil.

Zonal peculiarities of the building of tillage systems in crop rotations

Non-Black Earth zone

In cereal-grass, cereal-grass-row and cereal-row crop rotations the following are widespread: moldboard different-deep, moldboard with deepening of arable layer, combined tillage, which combines moldboard and non-moldboard, chisel and other methods of main tillage.

Moldboard different depth tillage system includes: post-harvest stubble discing in 1-2 traces at 6-8 cm, plowing to a depth of the arable layer under row crops or in a fallow, discing to a depth of 12-16 cm for cereal crops in the remaining fields of the crop rotation.

When placing winter crops after perennial grasses perform double discing to a depth of 6-8 cm for the deprivation of turf with subsequent plowing to the depth of the arable layer, and simultaneously leveling the soil surface. For this purpose, arable aggregates of ПКА-2 type or ploughs with screw mouldboards are used.

The system of moldboard different-deep tillage is effective on medium- and well-cultivated sod-podzolic and gray forest soils, on lands with relatively levelled relief.

In the central regions of the Non-Black Earth zone periodicity of plowing in crop rotations is 2-3 years, on well-cultivated, weakly infested with perennial weeds – up to 3-4 years.

The optimal place in the rotation for plowing are row crops, fallow-occupying crops, under which organic fertilizers are applied. These crops respond positively to the methods of deep tillage. In addition, plowing is effective for spring grain (cover crops) followed by perennial grasses, due to soil compaction and increased weed infestation in the fields during the two-year use of grasses.

Deep autumn tillage in wet areas leads to soil over-wetting, which affects the timing of sowing of early spring crops and a decrease in yields.Therefore, under conditions of excessive moisture, autumn plowing is replaced by discing to a depth of 10-12 cm or polydisk tiller to a depth of 12-15 cm. This system is also effective for row crops of late sowing period, for which the permissible spring application of organic fertilizers.

On heavy, poorly cultivated soils and weedy fields it is advisable to carry out annual plowing to a depth of 20-22 cm with a preliminary discing in 1-2 treads. Shallow (up to 10-12 cm) or surface (up to 8 cm) tillage instead of plowing is effective only on well-cultivated soils not clogged with perennial weeds, for winter crops, which are after the leguminous, early potatoes, corn for silage and annual grasses, as well as for oats after tilled crops.

Surface or shallow autumn tillage with wide-cut implements allows for 3-5 days earlier sowing of crops and reducing the period of field works.

Combined system of tillage in crop rotation includes a combination of periodic plowing of 20-22 cm deep in the tilled layer or non-moldboard deep loosening of 27-30 cm for row crops with surface or shallow tillage of 8-10 cm for continuous crops. Deep tillage is also carried out for leguminous and fallow-occupied crops.

The high level of intensification allows for 30-50% reduction of energy costs without reducing the productivity of the crop rotation. At the same time it has a positive effect on the balance of organic matter and preserves the potential fertility.

Table. Productivity of cereal-grass-row crop rotation* depending on the system of tillage of sod-podzolic soil (according to the data of the Moscow Agricultural Academy, 1975-1984).

Tillage system
Energy intensity coefficient
Energy consumption, MJ/ha
100 kg of fodder units per 1 ha
Combination of moldboard and no-till

*Crop rotation: annual grasses – winter wheat – potatoes – barley

The system of tillage, which combines plowing with non-moldboard, chisel tillage, is widespread in crop rotations of the Non-Black Earth zone. It consists of periodic soil loosening to a depth of 30-40 cm for potatoes or other row crops, plowing for winter crops, which are after the perennial grasses, and shallow tillage for solid crops. This system showed its effectiveness on heavy poorly cultivated sod-podzolic, gray forest soils, sloping lands, with the risk of water erosion and lands with compacted subsoil horizon.

Deep chiseling allows loosening compacted subsoil layers, improving their agrophysical properties, contributes to the transfer of surface runoff into intra-soil, increases the reserves of productive moisture by 40-87 m3/ha. For example, according to the data of the Research Institute of Agriculture of the Central region of the Non-Chernozem zone, while chiseling the productivity of the cereal-grass crop rotation of sod-podzolic medium-loamy soil increased by 115 kg of fodder units/ha.

Deep loosening allows you to remove excess moisture from the root layer, which accelerates the onset of physical ripeness and prevents the soaking of winter crops with minimal tillage. For this purpose, the ПЧ-2,5 and ПЧ-4,5 chisel tools with devices for leveling the soil and ripper plows such as ПРК-4-40, ПРУ-7-40 are used.

The best results in weed control in the rotation are achieved by moldboard differently-deep and combined systems in which plowing alternates with chisel or shallow tillage. At different-deep tillage the seeds and vegetative organs of weed reproduction are embedded to a greater depth, and lose viability, being in the soil for 2-4 years. According to the data of the Ryazan State Agricultural Academy, the weed infestation of cereal and cereal-row crop rotations at the plough-surface system of cultivation of gray forest soils decreased by 1.5 times.

Cultivation technologies of the Non-Black Earth zone use more economical and environmentally sound methods of minimizing tillage with the combined units КА-3,6 (milling-sowing machine), МКПП-3,6 (cultivator-sowing machine), which combine pre-sowing tillage, fertilizer application, sowing and rolling the soil. Their use on non-stony soils allows to refuse from plowing for winter crops following occupied fallows (except for perennial grasses) and for spring cereals placed after row crops.

On well-cultivated soils with optimal structure it is possible to use СЗПП-4, СЗПП-8 seeders of direct seeding without pre-tillage.

Permanent non-moldboard tillage and minimization techniques reduce the rate of humus mineralization by 25-30% and significantly reduce the risk of erosion. However, this method of cultivation causes difficulties in the incorporation of fertilizers, green manure, perennial grasses and quality pre-sowing tillage. Phytosanitary conditions worsen, which generally leads to lower yields.

Table. System of tillage of sod-podzolic soil in the Central region of the Non-Black Earth zone (as recommended by the Department of Agriculture of the Moscow Agricultural Academy, 1993)

Crop of rotation
Tillage system
Tillage tools
Timeframe for the work
Winter wheatDiscing at 6-8 cm in two waysБДТ-3; БДТ-7Following the harvesting of the grasses
Plowing at 20-22 cm with harrowingПЛН-3-35; ПЛН-4-35; ПЛН-6-35 + ПВР-2.3Two to three weeks before sowing
HarrowingБЗТС-1As weeds emerge
Cultivation at 6-8 cm with levelling and rollingКПС-4 + БЗСС-1; РВК-3,6; РВК-5,4Before sowing or on the day of sowing
Annual grassesDiscing at 6-8 cmБДТ-3; БДТ-7After harvesting the predecessor
Chiseling the soil at 27-30 cmПЧ-2,5 + ПСТ-2,5; ПЧ-4,5 + ПСТ-4,5In the system of autumn tillage
Pre-sowing milling and sowing at 5-6 cmКФГ-3,6; СЗ-3,6; КА-3,6; КА-7,2Before sowing
Winter ryeDiscing at 6-8 cm with harrowingБДТ-3; БДТ-7; БЗТС-1After harvesting the grasses
Combined pre-sowing tillage at 8-10 cm and sowingКФГ-3,6; КА-3,6Before sowing
Barley with undersowing of perennial grassesStubble discing at 5-6 cmЛДГ-5АFollowing the harvesting of cereals
1-2 times discing at 6-8 cmЛДГ-10А; БДН-3
Plowing at 20-22 cm with plows with skimmers without harrowingПЛН-4-3,5 + ПЛН-6-35In case of mass germination of weeds
Early spring harrowing in two trailsБЗТС-1, БЗСС-1In spring when the soil is physically mature
Pre-sowing cultivation at 6-8 cm with levelling and rolling of the soilКШУ-6 + БЗСС-1, РВК-3,6Before sowing
Perennial grasses of the 1st year of useSingle-track harrowingБЗСС-1In spring when the soil is physically mature
Perennial grasses of the 2nd year of useSingle-track harrowingБЗСС-1In spring when the soil is physically mature

Central Black Earth zone

The results of long-term field experiments carried out in the Central Black Earth zone show the advantage of the system of moldboard different-deep and combined reduced, that is moldboard-flat-cut, moldboard-disk, tillage on all types of black earth (typical, common and leached).

It is advisable to deep tillage in cereal-row, cereal-fallow-row and other crop rotations under row crops and leguminous crops, in bare fallow. Optimal depth of the main tillage in rotation for sugar beet is 28-32 cm, for corn and sunflower – 23-25 cm. On podzolized black earth, dark gray and gray forest soils, the depth of tillage is determined by the thickness of the arable or humus horizon.

All systems of autumn tillage with plowing immediately after harvesting cereals are carried out stubble discing to a depth of 6-8 cm. If the fields are infested with perennial weeds, use the system of improved tillage or layer-by-layer tillage. In the first case, before plowing two stubble discing on the 6-8 and 8-10 cm with additional cultivation for mass weed growth is carried out.

At layer-by-layer tilling for row crops, additional flat-cutting loosening or discing with polydisk tiller to the depth of 12-14 cm for deep undercutting of perennial weeds and involvement of weed seeds into the top layer is carried out. Plowing of the soil for the sugar beet and other root crops is carried out by the tier ploughs, for example, ПНЯ-4-40, ПНЯ-6-40, which provide good crumbling of the soil to a depth of 30-32 cm.

Plowing at a depth of 20-22 cm followed by deep chiseling at 35-40 cm with ПЧ-4,5, ПЧ-2,5 which loosens plow footing, improves water permeability and contributes to accumulation of moisture shows high efficiency.

For spring cereal crops, following row crops, the depth of autumn tillage is reduced to 16-17 cm, except for weedy fields and sloping lands. To cultivate the latter use polydisk tiller, flat-cut cultivators, chisel implements КПЧ-5,1.

Winter crops in the Central Black Earth zone are often placed on bare fallows, which tillage methods differ depending on the predecessor and weediness. When weed infestation with perennial weeds, first, stubble discing by polydisk tillers to a depth of 16-17 cm, then – disk hoeing to crush the vegetative organs of weed reproduction. In case of their mass regrowth, plowing is carried out. In years with prolonged warm autumn weed sprouts on the already ploughed soil are eliminated by cultivation.

In spring and summer period the main objectives of black fallow tillage are maximum moisture retention and weed control. Tillage on care of fallows consists of discing by polydisk tiller to a depth of 12-14 cm with harrowing and subsequent cultivations with harrowing as weeds grow and soil compaction. For incorporation of organic fertilizers, the depth of discing is increased to 16-17 cm. In dry years, cultivation is replaced by harrowing in order to preserve soil moisture or cultivators with knife-shaped tines are used.

For care of fallows the flat-cut cultivator type КПШ-9, КПШ-11, КПЭ-3,8 and others, which well cut the weeds and loosen the soil without drying it out, are used.

For winter crops, following legumes, annual grasses, corn for silage or green fodder, shallow tillage of 10-12 cm is used, using disc (ЛДГ-10, БДТ-7, БДТ-10), flat-cutting (КПГ-2,2, КПШ-5, КПЭ-3,8) or chisel (КПЧ-5,1) tools. In the case of heavy weeding, the working depth is increased or herbicides are used. After disc tillage harrowing or cultivation is carried out to level the soil surface.

Shallow tillage, especially in the dry second half of summer, provides a better crumbling of the topsoil and creates a mulch layer.

Observance of the optimal timing of soil treatment for winter crops determines the receipt of friendly shoots and good development of plants in the autumn period. Therefore, tillage is carried out simultaneously with the harvest of the predecessor, avoiding drying of the soil.

Replacement of plowing by shallow tillage does not lead to reduction of winter crops yield and in dry years increases it by 0.14-0.2 t/ha.

Sharp temperature fluctuations in winter with shallow tillage can lead to soaking and formation of ice crust on crops of winter cereals. Therefore, it is important to thoroughly loosen and level the soil surface before sowing, or to conduct slitting in late autumn.

On sloping lands of the Central Black Earth zone a system of anti-erosion tillage is used, including non-moldboard with slitting, mouldboard ridging, mouldboard stepped and other treatments, preventing the possibility of soil washing away.

The system of tillage of black earth soils in the cereal-row crop rotation may change depending on soil and weather conditions, quantitative and species composition of weeds.

Volga Region

In the forest-steppe zone cereal-row, cereal-fallow-row, and cereal-fallow crop rotations prevail in the steppe zone, which determine the systems of main tillage taking into account biological characteristics of crops, aridity of climate, weediness of fields, risk of erosion development and other factors.

For crop rotations in the forest-steppe zone of the Volga region with heavy loamy black earth, a different-deep moldboard tillage is recommended, especially on the fields protected by forest belts or forests from the effects of winds. In crop rotations with open fields, a combination of non-moldboard loosening and plowing is used.

Deep plowing on all types of black earth and well-cultivated gray forest soils is advisable to implement in bare fallow, for row crops, legumes and fallow-occupied crops, as well as on the fields weeded by perennial weeds and under the predecessors of perennial grasses.

Non-moldboard tillage is used on light soils with the use of subsurface (flat-cut) deep tillers, ploughs type paraplau, chisel or implements with SibIME tines.

Frequency of deep plowing in typical carbonate and common black earth soils is 3-5 years, in well-cultivated gray forest, leached black earth and chestnut soils – 2-3 years. Treatment depth is 25-27 cm, for sugar beet – up to 30 cm. Periodic tillage helps to reduce the weediness of fields and the infestation of winter cereals by root rots and powdery mildew, reduce the number of winter moths, cereal aphids and flies.

In cereal-fallow crop rotations in the steppe arid zone and on light soils at risk of wind erosion, a system of soil-protective flat-cutting is used with leaving up to 70-80% of stubble on the surface or with additional mulching by chopped straw. Such treatment contributes to moisture accumulation and provides stable soil protection from erosion.

The predominance of black earth, chestnut and other soils with favorable agrophysical properties for plants in the Volga region allows the application of minimization of tillage. For example, plowing for winter crops following fallow sown with corn for silage, grass mixtures of annual grasses or non-fallow predecessors for which deep tillage was carried out, is replaced by shallow tillage to a depth of 10-12 or 12-14 cm. Under spring cereals coming after winter crops, placed on bare fallow, as well as after row crops recommended shallow tillage at 12-16 cm. For this system of tillage is used flat-cutting (КПШ-5, КПШ-9, КПШ-11, КПЭ-3, 8) and disc (БДТ-7, БДТ-10) tools, for sowing – stubble seeders like СЗС-2,1.

According to scientific institutions of the Volga region, shallow tillage increases the yield of winter crops by 0.2-0.4 t/ha, especially in conditions of very dry years.

When placing winter cereals after the fallow, it is effective to use combined tillage aggregates, such as АКП-2.5, АКП-5, which can reduce the sowing period and prevent soil drying.

In years with a warm autumn half-fallow tillage has an advantage in clearing fields of perennial weeds and accumulation of moisture. In conditions of dry autumn early autumn plowing carried out immediately after harvesting forecrop on the fields with weak weed infestation by perennial weeds is more effective. In years with sufficient precipitation autumn tillage is carried out with prior stubble discing, which increases the effectiveness of perennial weeds control. As weed vegetation grows, it is eliminated by additional cultivation to a depth of 6-8 cm.

Methods of autumn tillage for spring crops are determined by the type of soil and weed infestation of the fields. Spring tillage for light soils infested with perennial weeds consists of stubble loosening with flat-cut cultivators at 10-12 cm after harvesting winter crops. The depth of subsequent tillage increases to 20-22 cm. After spring cereals, for which there was no deep tillage, the main autumn tillage is increased to a depth of 20-22 cm for row crops – to 25-27 cm for sugar beets – up to 32 cm.

North Caucasus

The black earth and chestnut soils of the North Caucasus have good agrophysical properties, which provides various possibilities of main tillage in the rotation, both in depth and by methods of deep mechanical loosening.

Stavropol, Don, and Krasnodar agricultural research institutes have developed rational tillage systems for each agricultural zone of the North Caucasus, combining moldboard and non-moldboard methods of main tillage, taking into account moisture availability, erosion risk, and the composition of crops in crop rotations.

Stavropol, Don, and Krasnodar agricultural research institutes have developed rational tillage systems for each agricultural zone of the North Caucasus, combining moldboard and non-moldboard methods of main tillage, taking into account moisture availability, erosion risk, and the composition of crops in crop rotations.

Winter crops are placed in early and black fallows on light-chestnut and chestnut soils with light granulometric composition subjected to the risk of wind erosion.The main processing of black fallow is carried out in fall, early crops – in spring using subsurface (flat-cut) deep tillers to a depth of 20-22 cm. Care of fallow is the closing of moisture needle harrow and layer-by-layer tillage in the summer by flat-cutting cultivators, such as КПШ-5, КПШ-9, КПЭ-3,8. The first tillage shall be carried out at a depth of 10-12 cm in subsequent – up to 6-8 cm in order not to dry out the soil. The use of herbicides allows reducing the number of mechanical fallow tillage from 4-5 to 1-2.

Timing of tillage for care of fallows is determined by the time of appearance of weeds or formation of soil crust. Good loosening of the upper layer is achieved by using needle harrows БИГ-3А in active loosening mode or rotary hoes such as БМШ-15, БМШ-20.

To combat germinating rhizomatous weeds use rod cultivators, extracting rhizomes to the soil surface, which in hot weather dry up and die.

On heavy and saline chestnut soils, winter cereals are placed after bare fallow, moldboard tillage which is carried out on the type of black fallow at a depth of 20-22 or 23-25 cm. According to the Prikumskaya Experimental Breeding Station, increasing the depth of plowing more than 25 cm does not give a positive result of moisture accumulation and increase winter crops yields.

Under conditions of sufficient or unstable moisture after seeded fallows and non fallow predecessors for winter wheat half-fallow tillage is carried out, which allows effective control of weeds, root rot pathogens and qualitatively prepare the soil for sowing.

For winter crops, which follow seeded fallows after leguminous crops or row crops, plowing is replaced by shallow tillage by 10-12 cm. To do this, use discing, heavy disc harrows, such as БДТ-3, БДТ-7 or flat-cutting cultivators. Combining the disk and flat-cutting with needle harrows БИГ-3А, БМШ-15, БМШ-20 increases the quality of loosening the soil and achieve a level surface. Minimization of tillage allows to increase the yield of winter crops by 0.32 t/ha and reduce energy costs by 30%.

At the main tillage for winter crops after stubble predecessors the plowing is replaced by cultivation by combined aggregates АКП-2,5, АКП-5 equipped with disc, flat-cutting working bodies, soil leveler and ring-spiked rollers. Their use allows to create a mulching layer of stubble and plant residues, which reduces moisture evaporation and improves moisture supply of winter crops.

On soils subject to erosion and for spring cereal crops, replacement of plowing by flat-cutting at 20-22 cm is effective, especially after row crops. It is advisable to use herbicides if the fields are heavily weeded.

On ordinary and leached black earth soils of the Krasnodar Territory is effective system of different deep tillage in cereal-row crop rotations. Deep moldboard tillage is carried out for corn, sugar beet and sunflower, and shallow tillage is carried out for winter crops following corn and sunflower. Alternation in rotation with moldboard and shallow tillage increases the yield of winter wheat by 0. 2 t/ha and reduces fuel consumption by 8.2 kg/ha compared with the annual plowing.

Systematic use of shallow or flat-cutting in the rotation leads to deterioration of agrophysical properties, increases 1.5 times the hardness of the soil, reduces its water permeability, weediness increases by 30%, the number of root rot causative agents increases. Therefore, it is most optimal to alternate in crop rotation moldboard and non-moldboard tillage methods at different depths, taking into account weediness of fields, crop characteristics, moisture availability and risk of erosion.

Western Siberia and Southern Urals

The soil-protective different-depth tillage system based on flat-cutting and leaving up to 80% of stubble on the surface, which protects the soil from wind erosion and improves the moisture supply of plants, is effective in cereal-fallow and cereal-fallow-row crop rotations in Western Siberia and the Southern Urals. According to the data of the Siberian Research Institute of Agriculture the flat-cutting tillage allowed increasing the reserves of the productive moisture in a meter layer from 137 to 150 mm (liter per 1 m2) that increased the crop capacity of spring wheat by 0.15-0.25 t/ha.

Soil-protective tillage in the forest-steppe zone is combined with plowing for corn for silage at a depth of 25-27 cm, leguminous plants or legume-cereal grass-mixtures – to a depth of 20-22 cm. Plowing allows you to fill and mix with soil organic fertilizers.

A significant role in increasing the fertility of black earths in the forest-steppe and steppe zones is played by strip fallows, soil mulching with chopped straw, snow retention and other moisture-accumulating measures. The tillage of strip fallow in areas at risk of erosion is similar to the tillage of early fallow. Stubble left on fields not tilled in the autumn reduces wind speed in the ground layer, promotes snow accumulation, shallow soil freezing and good water permeability.

Stripes of strip fallow littered with wild oats (Avena fatua) are tilled in autumn with needle harrows БИГ-3А to incorporate seeds into the topsoil. In spring, they sprout quickly and are eliminated by subsequent tillage. In spring and summer, layer-by-layer treatment with flat-cut cultivators КПШ-9 and КПШ-11 is carried out to control weeds. The depth of the first tillage is 10-12 cm; subsequent loosening is increased by 2-3 cm for better stability of cultivators’ work.

Inter-strip spaces are cultivated with flat-cutters to the depth of 10-12 cm. In the summer period at the care of a strip fallow, rod and anti-erosion cultivators in aggregate with needle harrows or rod attachment ПШК-3,8 are used. The rotating square rod at a depth of 5-6 cm breaks the rhizomes of weeds, bringing them to the surface and simultaneously leveling the soil surface. In hot dry weather the rhizomes dry out and die. This method of control is especially effective against vicious weeds such as pigweed (Cynodon), creeping couch grass (Elytrigia repens), etc.

A large number of mechanical loosening in the care of bare fallow in summer leads to increased moisture loss by evaporation and soil drying, so the use of herbicides to control weeds in the fallow can reduce the number of tillage from 4-5 to 1-2 and increase the anti-erosion stability of the soil.

In the case of strip arrangement of crops in the rotation, the strips of Agropyron and other grasses are tilled with non-moldboard tools such as ОПТ-3-5 on 12-14 cm, in the late autumn loosening to a depth of 20-22 cm is carried out. On heavy soils the layer of perennial grasses is cut by heavy disc harrows with subsequent plowing.

Table. Technological scheme of black earth soil tillage in the forest-steppe zone (as recommended by the Omsk State Agricultural Academy, 1993) (Bazdyrev)

Crop of rotationTillage systemTillage toolsTiming of the work
Strip fallowStubble loosening at 4-5 cmБИГ-3А; БМШ-15In the fall after harvesting the predecessor
Layer-by-layer flat-cutting:
at 10-12 cm;
at 12-14 cm;
at 14-16 cm
КПШ-9; КПШ-11As weeds emerge
Sowing of two-line strip in 8-12 cm intervalsСКН-3July 10-20
Cultivation in the inter-strip spaces at 12-14 cmКПШ-5; КПШ-9As weeds emerge
Spring wheatSurface loosening at 4-5 cmБИГ-3АWhen the soil is physically mature
Pre-sowing tillage and sowing at 6-8 cmСЗС-2.ШMay 15-20
Spring wheatFlat-cutting at 12-14 cmКПШ-5; КПШ-9; КПШ-11After harvesting the predecessor
Early spring loosening at 4-5 cmБИГ-3АWhen the soil is physically mature
Pre-sowing cultivation at 6-8 cmКПШ-9; КПШ-11Тоже
Sowing СЗС-2.ШBefore sowing
Corn for silageAutumn plowing at 20-22 cm with harrowingПЛН-4-35; ПЛН-6-35After harvesting the predecessor
Early spring harrowing in two trailsБЗТС-1; БЗСС-1When the soil is physically mature
Cultivation with harrowing at 10-12 cmКПС-4А; БЗСС-1As weeds emerge
Pre-sowing cultivation with harrowing at 6-8 cmКПЭ-3,8; КТС-10-2; КШУ-6; КШУ-12Before sowing
Spring wheatFlat-cutting at 12-14 cmКПШ-5; КПШ-9After harvesting the predecessor
Early spring harrowing at 5-6 cmБИГ-3АWhen the soil is physically mature
Pre-sowing soil loosening and sowing at 6-8 cmСЗС-2,1МBefore sowing
Oats or barleyFlat-cutting at 12-14 cmКПШ-9; КПШ-11After harvesting the predecessor
Early spring harrowing at 5-6 cmБИГ-3АWhen the soil is physically mature
Combination of pre-sowing tillage and sowing at 6-8 cmСЗС-2,1МBefore sowing


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