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Conservation Tillage Systems – A Few Guidelines and How to do it

By pinoyfarmer | October 9, 2008
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Conservation tillage (CT) is more than just a farming practice. It promises to reduce labor and farm inputs while increasing and sustaining productivity and profitability. The usual; practice of most corn farmers is to plow the fields 1-3 times coupled with some secondary tillage practices such as harrowing, and furrowing before crop establishment. These are done to control existing vegetation (weeds, ratoons and stubbles of previous crops) while preparing a food seedbed.

In our present classification, CT varies from zero, reduced, ridge, and minimum tillage systems. This eliminates or reduces extensive soil disturbance by plow-based methods. It substantially reduces soil and moisture loss, and erosion brought about by intensive land preparation.

For a successful CT operation, the following principles are important:

  1. Eradication of weeds and stubbles. This is done using a very effective herbicide like glyphosate. Glyphosate (Tradename: POWER), a special herbicide developed and formulated by Monsanto Company solely for conservation tillage systems, is an ideal herbicides because it carries five characteristics: 1) broad-spectrum (kills most weeds); 2) systematic-(translocated to and kills the roots); 3) applied post-emergent to weeds; 4) cheap and readily available; and 5) environmentally compatible. It is also important to study the field conditions before POWER application and check the degree of weed infestation, the appropriate equipment to be used, and, as in any external input, the weather factor.
  2. Establishment of a suitable seedbed for good crop stand.
  3. Cultural practices such as fertilization, pest management and irrigation.


Adapted in areas with sandy to clay loam soil types; in hilly and rolling terrains, and in areas without implements for conventional systems. Also applicable in flat to slightly-rolling terrains, and/or when farmers want to save on land preparation and labor cost. It is also performed to shorten time for land preparation and when tillage implements cannot operate due to bad weather.

Direct-Dibble + Spray Systems (DD-SS) or Ridge/Furrow + Spray Systems (FS-SS) Special

Highly recommended in fields previously planted to row crops such as corn and legumes, and newly-opened areas. The Technique: Plant along the ridges/furrows which serve as planting guide and suitable seedbed. Advantages: Fields can be prepared in one(1) week or less and ensures a possible third short duration crop within a year.


  1. Dibble (hybrid or OPV) corn seeds directly into the soil using a jab seeder, armalite-type seeder, and/or a pointed stick, while relying on the previous furrow as guide. Seeds can also be manually planted in thin furrows/ridges previously created using a double moldboard plow.
  2. Immediately after seedling, spray weeds with POWER(enhanced glyphosate)herbicide at 6-8 Ii/ha. The rate used is dependent on weed population, height and density. NOTE: Sprayed weeds will show initial yellowing and discoloration at 4 days after treatment (DAT). Complete burndown and death will show in 7-10 DAT.
  3. Follow normal; cultural practices like irrigation, fertilization and pesticides application, as necessary.

Spray + Direct-Dibble Systems(SS-DD)or Spray + Furrow Systems(SS-FS) Special Feature:

To do POWER spraying and planting within one (1) week results in good germination and crop stand while killing the weeds. The Technique: Ensure even application of POWER herbicides by blanket or strip spraying . Use a flat fan nozzle, or Ultra Low Volume-Controlled Droplet Applicator (ULV-CDA). Advantages; (1) Provides natural mulch and absorbs soil moisture. (2) Leads to efficient fertilizer usage due to reduced early competition from weeds. (3) Potentially lessens secondary weed infestation while saving on additional weeding cost. (4) Leads to early crop establishment and reduces potential for pest infestation.


  1. Spray weeds with POWER herbicide at 6-8 li/ha. NOTE: Sprayed weeds will show initial yellowing and discoloration at 4 days after treatment (DAT). Complete burndown and death will occur in 7-10 days.
  2. At 3-7 days after spraying, dibble corn seeds at 25-30 cm apart within a row, one seed per hill. Use an armalite-type seeder, a jab seeder or a pointed stick as planting implement. Or create thin furrows using a double-mold plow and plant corn seeds immediately. Cover with thin layer of soil to avoid bird damage, and provide good soilseed contact.
  3. Do secondary weed control by applying POWER in crop at 20-30 days after planting, or as necessary. Use a knapsack sprayer with nozzle spray guard hood.
  4. Follow regular cultural practices like irrigation, fertilization or pesticides application.

Rotavate, Weed Flush, Spray and Direct-Dibble Systems (R,WF, SS-DD) or Create Furrows
(R,WS, SS-FS) Special Feature:

Highly recommended for weed-infested fields, and in fields previously planted with corn (to remove standing stubbles). The Technique: Weed-Flushing is a technique employed to allow germination of first layer soil weed seeds and spraying of glyphosate (POWER). Advantages: Pulverizes soil clods in heavy/clay soils, incorporates corn stubbles, reduces potential secondary weed infestation. Allows good crop stand.


  1. Rotavate once and immediately create thin furrows 60 cm apart using a double molboard plow.
  2. In areas with available water, or through rainwater, flash first generation weed seeds and allow germination in 7-14 days (2 weeks), or when 80 percent of the field turns green.
  3. Dibble corn seeds at 25-30 cm apart within a row, one seed per hill. Cover with thin soil layer to bird damage.
  4. Spray weeds with POWER at 6-8 Ii/ha. NOTE:Sprayed weeds will show initial yellowing and discoloration at 4 days after treatment (DAT). Complete burndown and death will be evident in 7-10 days.
  5. Do secondary weed control as needed by applying POWER in-crop. Use knapsack sprayer with spray-guard or hooded nozzle to prevent drift.
  6. Follow regular cultural practices like irrigation, fertilization and pesticide application as necessary.

Source: Philippine Department of Agriculture

Topics: Technologies | 1 Comment »

One Response to “Conservation Tillage Systems – A Few Guidelines and How to do it”

  1. Len Goodman Says:
    April 22nd, 2012 at 12:51 am

    Der Agripinoy,

    I am a graphic designer working on behalf of the Minnesota Corn Growers Association. We are developing a print campaign that highlights the benefits of Conservation Tillage. We would very much like to use the stunning corn field photo attached to your article entitled: Conservation Tillage Systems – A Few Guidelines and How to do it (Oct. 9, 2008).

    We would, of course pay a usage fee–if it is within our somewhat modest budget.

    If this is possible, we would require the largest source image you may have, at a resolution of 300 dpi.

    Is this possible?

    Thank you very kindly,
    Len Goodman