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close this book Soils, Crops and Fertilizer Use
close this folder Chapter 4: Seedbed preparation
View the document The what and why of tillage
View the document Common tillage equipment
View the document The abuses of tillage and how to avoid them
View the document Making the right seedbed for the crop, soil, and climate
View the document How deep should land be tilled?
View the document How fine a seedbed?
View the document Some handy seedbed skills for intensive vegetable production

The what and why of tillage

Tillage is the use of implements to prepare land for planting. Many Third World small farmers who lack equipment (or whose land is very steep or rocky) will prepare ground by slashing and burning the vegetation, followed by making seed holes with a planting stick or hoe. In cases where tillage is used, it has 5 main purposes:

• To break up clods and loosen the topsoil to encourage seed germination, seedling emergence, and root growth. Most tractor- and animal-drawn planters require a tilled seedbed for successful operation.

• To chop up and/or bury the previous crop's residues so they won't interfere with the new crop.

• To control weeds. An ideal seedbed is completely free of visible weeds at planting time.

• To incorporate (mix into the soil) fertilizers or liming materials.

• To shape the type of seedbed best suited to the specific soil, crop, and rainfall conditions (e.g. raised beds, ridges, flat beds, sunken beds, etc.).