Producing crops usually involves regular plowing, tilling, that stirs up the soil in various ways. Plowing, tilling, is used to remove weeds, mix in soil amendments like fertilizers, shape the soil into rows and prepare the soil for seeding. Yet, it has been proven that this can lead to adverse effects, like making the soil too compact, loss of organic substances, loss or disruption of soil microbes, arthropods, and earthworms, and increased erosion where topsoil is blown or washed away. To avoid these unfavorable effects Grain Alliance uses a modified “no-till” method, the so called “mini-till”.
Evidence shows that repeated tillage destroys the soil and could potentially be damaging to the environment in the long run. Regular tilling degrades the fertility of soils, causes air and water pollution, intensifies drought stress, leads to an increased fuel consumption and even contributes to global warming. With the no-till and mini-till method crop residues or other organic substances are kept on the soil surface and sowing/fertilizing is done with minimal soil disturbance.
In mini-till and no-till farming the soil is left almost intact and crop residue is left on the field. Therefore, soil layers, and in turn the biological structure of the soil are conserved in their natural state. Other benefits of no-till include increasing soil quality and less erosion, evaporation of water, and structural breakdown. Crop residues left intact help natural precipitation to infiltrate the soil where it can be used. The crop residue left on the soil surface also limits evaporation, conserving water for plant growth. A reduction in tillage passes helps prevent the compaction of soil. Less plowing, tilling, reduces labor and related fuel and machinery costs. Less soil plowing means less airborne dust. No-till fields often have more beneficial insects, a higher microbial content, and a greater amount of soil organic material.