Agriculture is an important topic in the UPSC syllabus. As the sector on which most of India’s population lives on, it is a regularly-featured topic in the newspapers. In this article, you can read all about no-tilling farming for the IAS exam, which is a part of sustainable agricultural practices.
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In conventional agricultural practices, tilling the soil is an important process. It is the process in which soil is prepared by mechanical agitation such as stirring, digging and overturning. But, tilling the soil has many negative effects on it such as drying, and decrease in the nutrient content and organic matter. It can also induce erosion of soil since tilling reduces the water infiltration rate of soil. Tilling also destroys soil aggregates and can kill microbes, earthworms,
Etc. In fact, one of the biggest causes of soil degradation is the practise of tilling the soil.
To avoid these harmful effects of tilling, some farmers adopt no-tilling farming, also called zero tillage farming. This practice can also improve soil conditions.
No-till farming is the method of farming in which there is no tilling involved. Here, the soil is left undisturbed except to place the seeds in the desired position to germinate. The pioneer of no-tilling farming is Masanobu Fukuoka, a Japanese farmer.
Benefits of no-tilling farming
- It allows the soil structure to stay intact.
- It also protects soil by leaving the crop residue on the surface.
- This enhances the ability of the soil to absorb and infiltrate water.
- This, in turn, decreases erosion and runoff.
- It also prevents pollution from entering water sources present in the vicinity.
- Since no-tilling slows evaporation, it leads to better absorption of rainwater, and better efficiency of irrigation. This would lead to greater yields especially in hot and dry climates.
- Another advantage is related to the microbes and other creatures living in the soil, which are critical to the health of the soil. Tilling can cause the death or disturbance of these living organisms.
- No-tilling farming also decreases the labour, irrigation, fuel, and machinery costs.
Many farmers are reluctant to adopt no-tilling farming because of the perceived effects on the output. But, no-tilling farming, if done correctly, can lead to more profitable agriculture.
No-tilling farming for sustainable agriculture
- This practice has carbon-sequestration potential. Apart from reducing carbon emission, no-tilling practice can also reduce nitrous oxide emissions by 40 to 70%.
- This is apart from the other benefits mentioned above.
Some farmers adopt the practice of Conservation Tillage. Here, the amount of tilling done is reduced considerably although not entirely avoided. This is also called Strip-Tillage. When tilling is done every alternate year, it is known as Rotational Tillage.
Candidates can find the general pattern of the UPSC Exams by visiting the UPSC Syllabus page.