Reducing the intensity of tillage can help improve the soil in many ways. Maintaining more residue on the surface reduces runoff and erosion, while the reduction in soil disturbance allows for earthworm holes and old root channels to rapidly conduct water from intense rainstorms into the soil. There are many choices of reduced tillage systems, and equipment is available to help farmers succeed. Using cover crops along with reduced tillage has been found to be a winning combination, providing surface cover rapidly and helping to control weeds.


Cornell Recommendations for Integrated Field Crop Production. 2000. Ithaca, NY: Cornell Cooperative Extension.

Manuring. 1979. Cooperative Extension Service Publication AY-222/ West Lafayette, IN: Purdue University.

Moebius, B.N., H.M. van Es, J.O. Idowu, R.R. Schindelbeck, D.J. Clune, D.W. Wolfe, G.S. Abawi, J.E. Thies, B.K. Gugino, and R. Lucey. 2008. Long-term removal of maize residue for bioenergy: Will it affect soil quality? Soil Science Society of America Journal 72: 960–969.

Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs. 1997. No-till: Making it Work. Available from the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Rodale Institute. No-Till Revolution.

Tull, J. 1733. The Horse-Hoeing Husbandry: Or an Essay on the Principles of Tillage and Vegetation. Printed by A. Rhames, for R. Gunne, G. Risk, G. Ewing, W. Smith, & Smith and Bruce, Booksellers. Available online through Core Historical Literature of Agriculture, Albert R. Mann Library, Cornell University.

van Es, H.M., A.T. DeGaetano, and D.S. Wilks. 1998. Upscaling plot-based research information: Frost tillage. Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems 50: 85–90.