13 July 2001
What soil type is best suited to lo-till?
ANSWER: Lo-tilling should be possible on most soil types, but the machinery and management will clearly be different. Heavy calcareous clays, such as the Hanslope series, are ideal candidates because they crack down to the subsoil when dried out which makes them self-structuring and self healing.
Any soil types prone to compaction, such as the Denchworth series, will require at some point deeper soil loosening to restore good structure. This does not actually rule them out for lo-till, but rotational min tillage may be needed.
This in itself has problems because the full benefit of adopting lo-tilling and its consequent impact on soil structure and other environmental benefits will be interrupted by the plough. In addition any new investment in min-till equipment will have to be spread over a smaller annual acreage.
Very light soils can slump if not moved, so you could argue that on lighter lands it is just as cheap to have a fast shallow plough.
FROM: Ben Freer