No-till: saving the soil, securing our food

No-till is a way of growing crops without plowing. There is no soil disturbance and fields retain a good cover of living or decaying plant material throughout the year. This protects against erosion and encourages a healthy, well-structured soil for growing crops. The system is also known as zero-tillage or direct drilling


Also known as conservation tillage or zero tillage is a way of growing crops from year to year without disturbing the soil through tillage ie cultivating the soil usually with tractor-drawn implements.

Authoritative On-line References and Resources  A portal for on-line information about no-till farming.
and is one of a number of practices that are included in the overall concept of conservation tillage


Any tillage and planting system that covers 30 percent or more of the soil surface with crop residue after planting to reduce soil erosion by water.

Authoritative On-line References and Resources

Purdue University-based Conservation Technology Information Centre.
No-till soils retain water better, while allowing any excess to drain away thanks to a better structure and numerous worm channels making crops more resistant to drought and less likely to become water-logged. Farmers practising no-till spend less on machinery and fuel, and make greater profits. Fewer passes across fields by lighter tractors results in lower emissions of carbon dioxide, and unlike when plowed, no-till soils sequester carbon because of the accumulation of organic matter. Biodiversity


The variety of life in all its forms, levels and combinations. Includes ecosystem diversity, species diversity, and genetic diversity (IUCN, UNEP and WWF, 1991).

Authoritative On-line References and Resources EarthTrends is a comprehensive online database, maintained by the World Resources Institute, that focuses on environmental, social, and economic trends. Statistics on biodiversity indicators are available.
above and below the ground also improves. Weed control is a fundamental issue in no-till because weeds are not buried by plowing. Although various weed control practices are used in no-till, including the use of cover crops


Cover crops are primarily planted not to be harvested for food but to reduce soil erosion, control weeds and improve soil quality. They are usually plowed or tilled under before the next food crop is planted, in which cases the "cover crop" is used as a soil amendment and is synonymous with "green manure crop."

Authoritative On-line References and Resources ATTRA is the US National Centre for Appropriate Technology's Sustainable Agriculture Information Centre.
, non-selective


A chemical product used for eliminating all types of weeds (annual and perennial grasses and broadleaved weeds).

Authoritative On-line References and Resources An invaluable source of contemporary information about herbicides and weeds from Iowa State University.
herbicides such as paraquat play a key role in an integrated approach to weed management.
Paraquat is the best choice when fast action and rainfastness are needed. It has no soil residual activity because it is deactivated by extremely strong adsorption immediately on contact with soil. New flushes of germination are, therefore, unaffected. A naturally regenerated and managed weed flora provides a vegetative cover to the soil performing a similar function to crop remains spread over the field. Paraquat also contributes to minimizing soil erosion


Displacement of solids (soil, mud, rock and other particles) usually by the agents of currents such as, wind, water, or ice by downward or down-slope movement.

Authoritative On-line References and Resources This site brings together reliable information on soil erosion from a wide range of disciplines and sources. It aims to be the definitive internet source for those wishing to find out more about soil loss and soil conservation.
by only destroying shoot growth. Roots are left intact and provide an anchoring effect. In addition, paraquat is an essential component in rotating herbicides to avoid weed resistance


The inherited ability of a plant/weed to survive a dose of a herbicide normally lethal to that species.

Authoritative On-line References and Resources The International Survey of Herbicide Resistant Weeds monitors the evolution of resistant species and assesses their impact. All confirmed instances of new cases are listed.
The in-depth article on no-till in the Paraquat Information Center Knowledge Bank has been updated. Read more