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Tillage Alternatives

 

Tillage has long been used to incorporate crop residues, prepare a seedbed, control weeds, and loosen the soil. However, in accomplishing these goals, tillage also reduces soil organic matter, disrupts soil structure, and leaves the soil surface prone to wind and water erosion. Systems that reduce or even eliminate tillage, while maintaining yields, have been developed for some crops and regions. These systems have the potential to build soil health and reduce erosion.

Featured Publications

Farmer-to-Farmer & Rancher-to-Rancher Case Studies Series

Authors include: Yorgey, G., Borrelli, K., Painter, K., Davis, H., Hall, S., Hudson, T., Neibergs, S., Reeves, M., Kruger, C., McGuire A., Finkelnburg, D., Roe, D., Brooks, E., and Kantor, S. 2016-2019. PNW Extension Publications and videos. These series explore strategies that innovative regional farmers and ranchers are using that enhance resilience to climate change and other future challenges. Case studies highlight producers in dryland and irrigated annual cropping, rangeland, and dairy production systems. Practices relate to soil health, diversification, responsive management, and many others.

Video: Reduced tillage in organic vegetable production

Sullivan D. and D.P. Collins. 2018. WSU Extension Video. This video is intended for organic vegetable producers and agricultural professionals, especially in the maritime northwest. Techniques and findings from recent research are shared to assist producers in trialing reduced tillage systems. The video covers the concept of reduced tillage organic agriculture, cover crop and weed management, and specialized equipment.

Crop Residue Management

Tao H., G. Yorgey, D. Huggins, D. Wysocki. 2017. Chapter 4 In Yorgey, G. and C. Kruger, eds. Advances in Dryland Production Systems in the Pacific Northwest. Washington State University Extension, Pullman, WA.

Advances in Dryland Farming in the Inland Pacific Northwest

Georgine Yorgey and Chad Kruger, Eds. 2017. Washington State University Extension. Pullman, WA.

Conservation Tillage Systems

Bista P., S. Machado, R. Ghimire, G. Yorgey, D. Wysocki. 2017. Chapter 3 In Yorgey, G. and C. Kruger, eds. Advances in Dryland Production Systems in the Pacific Northwest. Washington State University Extension, Pullman, WA.

Soil physical properties, nitrogen, and crop yield in organic vegetable production systems

Cogger, C, A. Bary, A. Fortuna, L. Myhre, and D.P. Collins. 2016. Agronomy Journal. 108:1142-1154

Cover crop effects on light, nitrogen, and weeds in organic reduced tillage

Wayman, S., C. Cogger, D. P. Collins, C. Benedict, I. Burke, and A. Bary. 2015. 39:6, 647-665, DOI: 10.1080/21683565.2015.1018398

High Residue Farming Under Irrigation: Pest Management Considerations (series 4 of 5)

McGuire, A. This publication is the fourth in a series on high residue farming (HRF), for farmers who are interested in HRF. This publication gives an overview of the effects of adopting HRF on the management of weeds, insects, and diseases. EM074E.

High Residue Farming Under Irrigation: Residue Management through Planting (series 3 of 5)

McGuire, A. This publication is the third in a series on high residue farming (HRF), for farmers who are interested in HRF. It discusses residue management after harvest and explains how to plant crops into high residue conditions with a planter or drill. It also covers modifications for existing equipment such as planters and drills, and soil fertility adjustments that may be necessary. EM073E.

High Residue Farming Under Irrigation: Crop Rotation (series 2 of 5)

McGuire, A. This publication is the second in a series on high residue farming (HRF), for farmers who are interested in HRF. It discusses how to choose a cropping sequence, choosing specific cover crops, and special crop considerations for irrigated cropping systems in the far western United States. It includes a very helpful table of crops that shows the relative difficulty of specific rotations. EM072E.

High Residue Farming Under Irrigation: What and Why (series 1 of 5)

McGuire, A. This publication is the first in a series on high residue farming (HRF), for farmers who are interested in HRF. It provides an overview of HRF, including the benefits and challenges. It also discusses some special considerations for HRF in the irrigated agriculture regions of the far western United States. EM071E.

High Residue Farming under Irrigation: Strip-till

McGuire, A. Extension Bulletin EM036E. Strip-tillage is a low-impact cultivation technique suited to irrigated land with a lot of residue from a previous crop. A strip-till system creates both clean-till and high-residue conditions in the same field, taking advantage of both systems while minimizing drawbacks. This publication discusses the benefits of this system, as well as equipment needed, general management concerns, and how to get started. A budget is also included to help growers determine the relative net cost of implementing this system. Originally published Jan 2011; revised Sept 2014.

Site-Specific Trade-offs of Harvesting Cereal Residues as Biofuel Feedstocks in Dryland Annual Cropping Systems of the Pacific Northwest, USA

Huggins, D.R., C.E. Kruger, K.M. Painter, D.P. Uberuaga. BioEnergy Research. June 2014, Volume 7, Issue 2, pp 598-608.

Management to Reduce Nitrous Oxide Emissions in Organic Vegetable Production Systems

Cogger, C., A. Fortuna, D. Collins. Feb 27, 2014. The second of a two-part webinar series.

Why the Concern about Nitrous Oxide Emissions?

Cogger, C., A. Fortuna, D. Collins. Feb 25, 2014. The first of a two-part webinar series.

The influence of cover crop variety, termination timing, and termination method on mulch, weed cover, and soil nitrate in organic reduced-tillage

Wayman, S., C. Cogger, C. Benedict, I. Burke, D. P. Collins, and A. Bary.  2014. Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems. FirstView: 1-11. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S1742170514000246.

Life cycle assessment of the potential carbon credit from no- and reduced-tillage winter wheat-based cropping systems in Eastern Washington State

Zaher, U, C. Stockle, K. Painter, S. Higgins. Agricultural Systems. November 2013. Volume 122, pages 73-78.

Carbon storage and nitrous oxide emissions of cropping systems in eastern Washington: A simulation study

Stöckle, C., S. Higgins, A. Kemanian, R. Nelson, D. Huggins, J. Marcos, and H. Collins. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation 2012 67(5):365-377; doi:10.2489/jswc.67.5.365.

Soil carbon sequestration in the dryland cropping region of the Pacific Northwest

Brown, T.T., and D.R. Huggins. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation 2012 67(5):406-415; doi:10.2489/jswc.67.5.406.

Reduced Tillage on Organic Farms Virtual Field Day

WSU researchers and extension educators are researching different methods for reducing tillage in organic vegetable production. This video demonstrates termination of barley and vetch cover crops with a roller/crimper and flail mower.

Additional Publications

Adoption potential and perceptions of reduced tillage among organic farmers in the maritime Pacific Northwest

Corbin, A., D.P. Collins, R. Krebill-Prather, C. Benedict, and D. Moore. 2013. eXtension Foundation, eOrganic Community of Practice.

The Second Solution: Agriculture’s Role – video featuring eastern Washington farmer John Aeschliman

The Northwest Biocarbon Initiative aims to galvanize farmers, foresters, community leaders, and thinkers to demonstrate the essential role that natural systems can play in ensuring long-term climate stability. The Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources is part of this collaboration with several of the Northwest’s leading conservation organizations who see this effort as a logical extension of our region’s rich natural resource heritage and our history of groundbreaking innovation and stewardship.

Farm-scale variation of soil quality indices and association with edaphic properties

Collins, D.P., C.G. Cogger, A.C. Kennedy, T. Forge, A.I. Bary, H.P. Collins, and R. Rossi. 2011.Soil Science Society of America Journal. 75 (2): 580-590.

Soil Carbon Under Dryland Agriculture in the Columbia Basin of the Pacific Northwest as Assessed by C-Farm

Chapter 27 in Climate Friendly Farming: Improving the Carbon Footprint of Agriculture in the Pacific Northwest. Full report available at http://csanr.wsu.edu/pages/Climate_Friendly_Farming_Final_Report/.

C-Farm: A Simple Model to Evaluate the Carbon Balance of Soil Profiles

Chapter 26 in Climate Friendly Farming: Improving the Carbon Footprint of Agriculture in the Pacific Northwest. Full report available at http://csanr.wsu.edu/pages/Climate_Friendly_Farming_Final_Report/.

Life Cycle Assessment of the Potential Carbon Credit from No- and Reduced- Tillage Winter Wheat in the U.S. Northwest

Chapter 25 in Climate Friendly Farming: Improving the Carbon Footprint of Agriculture in the Pacific Northwest. Full report available at http://csanr.wsu.edu/pages/Climate_Friendly_Farming_Final_Report/.

An Economic Analysis of the Potential for Carbon Credits to Improve Profitability of Conservation Tillage Systems Across Washington State

Reduced Tillage in an Irrigated Potato Rotation

Chapter 20 in Climate Friendly Farming: Improving the Carbon Footprint of Agriculture in the Pacific Northwest. Full report available at http://csanr.wsu.edu/pages/Climate_Friendly_Farming_Final_Report/.

Dryland Agriculture’s Impact on Soil Carbon Sequestration in the Pacific Northwest.

Chapter 13 in Climate Friendly Farming: Improving the Carbon Footprint of Agriculture in the Pacific Northwest. Full report available at http://csanr.wsu.edu/pages/Climate_Friendly_Farming_Final_Report/.

No-Till: How Farmers Are Saving the Soil by Parking their Plows

Huggins and Reganold. Article published in Scientific American July 2008.

Comparing tillage and mulching for organic orchard performance

Wiman, M., Kirby, E., Granatstein, D., Mullinix, K. 2008. Poster presented at 2008 BIOAg Research Symposium.

No-till: The quiet revolution

Huggins, D.R. and J.P. Reganold. 2008. Scientific American 299(July):70-77.

High Residue Farming Under Irrigation: Why Wait? – Summer 2007

Article in Sustaining the Pacific Northwest Newsletter. Summer 2007.

Cost Savings from Reduced Tillage in a Potato/Corn/Corn Rotation under Center Pivot Irrigation, Columbia Basin

Poster presentation from 2006 Paterson Field Day.

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