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close this bookResource Management for Upland Areas in Southeast Asia - An Information Kit (IIRR, 1995, 207 p.)
close this folder3. Soil and water conservation approaches
View the documentIntroduction to soil and water conservation approaches
View the documentBench terraces
View the documentComposting
View the documentContour tillage/planting
View the documentCover crops
View the documentCrop rotation
View the documentDiversion ditches
View the documentDrop structures
View the documentGrass strips
View the documentHedgerows
View the documentMinimum tilIage/zero tillage
View the documentMulching
View the documentRidge terraces
View the documentShifting cultivation
View the documentSoil barriers
View the documentSoil traps
View the documentWater harvesting

Minimum tilIage/zero tillage

In this system, simple farm implements such as hoes and digging sticks are used to prepare land and plant food crops. Minimum tillage is common and effective in controlling soil erosion, particularly on highly erodible and sandy soils. Examples of minimum tillage operation are rice-cropping systems in Vietnam and Thailand and taro cultivation in the Papua New Guinea lowlands.


Lessens the direct impact of raindrops on bare soil, thus minimizing soil erosion.

Minimizes degradation of soil structure.

Slows down the rate of mineralization, leading to more sustained use of nutrients in the organic matter.

Requires less labor than full tillage.

Can be practiced on marginal soils that might not otherwise be feasible to cultivate.


Inadequate seedbed preparation may lead to poor establishment and low yield of crops such as maize and sweet potato.

Rooting volume may be restricted in soils with massive structures.

Factors affecting adoption


Under no-burn swidden conditions, the soil is covered with tree litter and brush, making it difficult to plow.


Provides an alternative to cultivation using draft animal power.
Farmers in swidden systems traditionally use and are familiar with minimum tillage practices.