Low input tillage/cropping systems for limited resource areas uri icon


  • Agriculture in limited resource areas is characterized by small farms which an generally too small to adequately support the needs of an average farm family. The farming operation can be described as a low input cropping system with the main energy source being manual labor, draught animals and in some areas hand tractors. These farming systems are the most important contributor to the national economy of many developing countries.
  • Agriculture in limited resource areas must produce the food and fiber needs of their community, and its future depends on the development of sustainable tillage/cropping systems that are suitable for the soil and climatic conditions. These should be based on sound biophysical principles and meet the needs of and he acceptable to the farming communities. Some of the principle requirements for a sustainable system includes the maintenance of soil health, an increase in the rain water use efficiency of the system, increased use of fertilizer and the prevention of erosion. The maintenance of crop residues on the surface is paramount for meeting these requirements, and the competing use of crop residues must be met from other sources. These requirements can be met within a zonal tillage system combined with suitable agroforestry, which will reduce the need for crop residues. It is, however, essential that farmers participate in the development of any new technologies to ensure adoption of the new system. (C) 2001 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.
  • The role of tillage is similar in dryland agricultural systems in both the high input (HICS) and low input cropping systems (LICS), however, wet cultivation or puddling is unique to lowland rice-based systems in low input cropping systems. Evidence suggest that tillage may result in marginal increases in crop yield in the short term, however, in the longer term it may be neutral or give rise to yield decreases associated with soil structural degradation. On marginal soils, tillage may be required to prepare suitable seedbeds or to release adequate Nitrogen through mineralization, but in the longer term, however, tillage reduces soil organic matter content, increases soil erodibility and the emission of greenhouse gases.
  • Tillage in low input cropping systems involves a very large proportion of the population and any changes: in current practices such as increased mechanization will have a large social impact such as increased unemployment and increasing feminization of poverty, as mechanization may actually reduce jobs for women. Rapid mechanization is likely to result in failures, but slower change, accompanied by measures to provide alternative rural employment, might be beneficial.

publication date

  • 2001
  • 2001
  • 2001