The future of agricultural tillage gone philisophical

Trust me this gets interesting very quickly and not just for farmers…

The question posed in a professional agriculture discussion group: Metan Kaan:  “What is the future of “Soil Tillage”? No Till is just a fashion or future of Soil Tillage? It is not able to kill Ploughing (Conventional Tillage) yet. Also there is a way between them called as “Minimum Tillage”. So, what is next and what is future?”

My answer in the in the discussion:

What are the crops of interest? This is a key critical delimitation. Other necessary delimitations: Climate, topsoil and subsoil type and starting condition, and problems/issues to be addressed. Also local resource base is important. Maybe the local resource base is strong on man-power, or maybe strong on engineering and fabrication skills and materials. Maybe the more limiting resources are the drivers in the decision.

In any given situation the most sustainable system will be one completely and totally customized to fit all the parameters. This is absolutely true of tillage for both small and large acreages.

20th century agronomic practices were sort of like a bunch of teenagers over-simplifying and confidently coming up with short sighted and non-sustainable solutions to surface rather than root problems (problems actually either being created or created in the previous century). Teenagers think they understand and know all; however slow maturation first humbles them and as they press on in learning and open minded aspiration, it empowers and enables them. Every type of tillage system has its place in this great world. We need highly skilled farmers and highly skilled farming communities. We also need triple bottom line ethic in community. 1.) Ecological asset, 2.) community/spiritual asset, and 3.) multiplication of resource are the drivers of sustainability which can be achieved in community not by recipe, but rather by the incubation of knowledge with skills and resources in the vial of community under the triple bottom line ethic.

Highly skilled farming communities can make a collage of tillage techniques that fits the landscape at any given time according to the driving ethic which also fits sustainability. Remember sustainability is societies problem, while acquisition of capital is more of the elitist problem. Wealth in community is never accomplished without achieving ecological sustainability, sustained and prosperous community, and multiplication of resource. Therefor, allow the true ethic to return and as the agronomic support base, we then only need to do the research to give the tools while allowing the skilled farming communities to adapt them to local conditions. We need to keep developing the best of all types from total and inversion tillage to none and find the appropriate ‘market’ for each.

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