1. preservation, and weed control. Tillage exerts different

1. Introduction

 

Tillage
has been an essential part of innovative development in the advancement of
agribusiness, specifically in production. The soil is tilled to achieve a fine
tilth for the sowing of seed, water, and soil preservation, and weed control.
Tillage exerts different physical, chemical and biological impacts on the soil
both advantageous and debasing, contingent upon the suitability of the systems
utilized. The physical impacts, for example, aggregate stability, penetration
rate, soil and water preservation, specifically, have a coordinate effect on
soil profitability and manageability. (FAO. 1993)

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However,
as the world population grows at an alarming rate, food production has
undergone a decline. This is in part due to declining levels of soil
productivity. Agriculture has to find innovative ways of producing enough food
to meet the demand, especially in vulnerable regions like Africa and Asia,
which are the most food insecure.

Swilling
and Annecke state that there is mounting evidence that the eco-systems that
make agriculture possible are steadily deteriorating as the levels of extraction and exploitation
intensifies (Swilling & Annecke. 2012). They argue that declining yield
growth is directly linked to soil degradation. To achieve food security we have
to find sustainable ways of food production to meet the growing population
demand.

Tillage-based
crop production systems have been attributed to declining yields because of its
effect on the soil and the environment. Moreover, the decline in yield growth
is directly attributed to rising food prices making access to food harder. This
paper aims to describe the root causes and the effects of environmental and
economic problems associated with tillage-based crop production systems.

 

2. What is a tillage-based
crop production system?

Tillage
is described as the mechanical exploitation of the soil with the intention of
growing crops. This disturbance of the soil affects the soil characteristics
such as soil water conservation, soil temperature, transpiration and
evapotranspiration processes. This means that tillage exerts a footprint on the
soil willfully to yield crops, therefore damages the environment.

Conventional tillage practice exerts the most impact on the soil. It is
responsible for the loss of soil organic carbon content, nitrate leaching,
greenhouse emissions. Busari, Kukal, Bhatt & Duluzi claims that soil
disturbance by conventional tillage makes the soil serve as a source rather
than a sink of atmospheric pollutants and thus is not sustainable and environmentally
friendly.

 

Busari et al list conservation tillage practices as ranging from No-Till
(NT), Reduced Tillage (RT), Mulch Tillage (MT), and Ridge Tillage to Contour
Tillage. Busari et al further explain that NT involves land cultivation with
little or no soil disturbance, the only disturbance being during planting while
minimum tillage means a reduced level of manipulation involving plowing using
primary tillage implements.

 

In mulch tillage, they state that the soil is tilled in a manner that
plant residues are left to cover the soil surface to the highest degree. They
explain ridge tilling as the planting of crops in rows along both sides or on
top of the ridges, which are prepared at the commencement of the cropping
season while contour tillage is when tillage is at right angles to the
direction of the slope.

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