The role of indigenous tillage systems in sustainable food production

Agriculture and Human Values 8 (1-2):149-155 (1991)

Farmers in developed countries have established various tillage practices for crop production. These include plowing, disking, subsoiling, harrowing, field cultivating, rotary hoeing, and row-crop cultivating. But these conventional tillage practices necessitate the use of heavy equipment that often causes soil compaction, impairs soil physical conditions, and creates conditions leading to soil erosion. Many Western countries, studying their conventional tillage systems through the new perspective of sustainable approaches to agriculture, are developing new tillage practices, called conservation tillage, which limit tillage to essential operations and prevent damage to soil. The majority of the small-scale farmers in developing countries use indigenous tillage systems. These are low-cost, locally adapted technologies that reflect considerable knowledge of sustainable agriculture. Ironically, the new conservation tillage systems currently being developed in the West have many characteristics of indigenous tillage systems. This paper compares conventional, conservation, and indigenous tillage practices, using examples from the United States and India, and concludes that, for sustainable food production, indigenous tillage practices in developing countries should continue to be used
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DOI 10.1007/BF01579667
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