No-Till Agriculture

No-till is simply the practice of low disturbance direct seeding into the soil. As the practice became more popular, equipment manufacturers and input suppliers began to develop more effective and efficacious methods to achieve direct seeding (air drills) and manage pests. As the quality and availability of tools to enable no-till advanced, so did the uptake of no-till.  
  • General Information

  • Case Study Name
    No-Till Agriculture 
  • Organisation(s) Involved
    This is an agriculture practice that has been adopted by grains and oilseeds farmers across Canada, particularly in the Canadian Prairie region. When the practice was first developed, it was strongly promoted by numerous associations, industry groups, government agencies and agronomists focused soil conservation and No-Till Farming Practices in Canada such as: Saskatchewan Soil Conservation Association Manitoba, Soil Conservation Council of Canada and, Alberta Reduced Tillage Linkages 
  • Timeframe
    The concept of no-till has been around for many years but it was not until the 1990’s that it became a viable management practice option for Canadian farmers and adoption rates became significant. 
  • Location/Region
    No-till farming is utilized throughout Canada but the Prairie provinces –particularly Saskatchewan – have the highest adoption rates. 
  • Brief Desctiption Of Case
    No-till is simply the practice of low disturbance direct seeding into the soil. As the practice became more popular, equipment manufacturers and input suppliers began to develop more effective and efficacious methods to achieve direct seeding (air drills) and manage pests. As the quality and availability of tools to enable no-till advanced, so did the uptake of no-till.  
  • Objectives

  • Primary Objective

    No-till seeding had two primary objectives when it first began to gain prominence on Canada. One was to reduce the erosion of fragile erosion-prone soils and the other was for the financial benefit that low-impact, one-pass seeding provides by reducing the time equipment would need to run (fuel savings, equipment wear and tear) and labour time saved.
    In addition to these initial objectives, no-till has also been shown over time to restore soil fertility and improved moisture and water management, a significant benefit in arid regions. By not tilling the field, the stubble that remains increases snow capture and spring soil moisture levels. This contributes to greater levels of soil organic material which also contributes to moisture conservation in the soil. The end result of all of this is that there is a quantifiable increase in carbon sequestration in the soil.  

  • Expected Results

    No-till has stabilized fragile Canadian soils and increased their fertility. This has made Canadian farmers more competitive and increased their resiliency to climate issues and also increased their yield potential.
    For Canola crops alone, an estimated one million tonnes of carbon is either sequestered or no longer released annually as a result of some no-till practices.  

  • Impact/Outcomes

  • Results To Date

    In the 2011 Canadian census of agriculture is was found that for the first time, no-till practices accounted for more than half of all area prepared for seeding across Canada. Overall, 17.1% more farms reported using no-till practices than in 2006.

    Total Land Prepared for Seeding

    Canada = 73,094,000 Acres
    Saskatchewan = 32,847,518 Acres


    Land Prepared for Seeding Using No-Till

    Canada = 41,241,494 Acres
    Saskatchewan = 23,034,858 Acres  

  • Challenges And Lessons Learned
    No-till agriculture does not work for all soil types and can be extremely challenging if there are not appropriate pest management plans put in place. In addition, although it is a simple agriculture technique to implement, it can be valuable to develop appropriate seeding equipment or techniques to maximize its benefits, although. 
  • Success Factors
    When used appropriately, the economic benefits can be significant and it can increase the resiliency of farmers and farmland to volatile weather patterns. It ensures the sustainability and fertility of agriculture soils and can stabilize crop yields. It is a very simple technique to begin implementing and with appropriate guidance and support, farmers can benefit very quickly. 
  • Scale-Up Potential
    As no-till continues to be adopted across the world, the scale up potential is large. The more effort, research and extension that is put into adopting the practice and modify the techniques for agricultural soils and climactic systems around the world, the more benefit farmers and the climate will receive. 
  • Additional Information

  • References
    Statistics Canada, Census of Agriculture, 1991-2011 Sibuga, K. P. 1999. The Role of Women and Children in Weed Management in Smallholder Farming Systems. 17th East African Biennial Weed Science Conference Proceedings. 85-90. Smyth et al, 2011, Environmental impacts from herbicide tolerant canola production in Western Canada, Agricultural Systems  
  • Weblink(s)
    http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/95-640-x/2012002/figs/figure24-eng.htm 
  • Contact Person And Contact Details

    Greg Northey
    +16132363633  

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