No tillage preceded by subsoiling [Chile]

Cero labranza con subsolado

technologies_1012 - Chile

Completeness: 84%

1. معلومات عامة

1.2 Contact details of resource persons and institutions involved in the assessment and documentation of the Technology

Key resource person(s)

SLM specialist:
SLM specialist:
Name of project which facilitated the documentation/ evaluation of the Technology (if relevant)
Name of the institution(s) which facilitated the documentation/ evaluation of the Technology (if relevant)
Instituto de Investigaciones Agropecuarias (INIA) (Instituto de Investigaciones Agropecuarias (INIA)) - Chile

1.3 Conditions regarding the use of data documented through WOCAT

The compiler and key resource person(s) accept the conditions regarding the use of data documented through WOCAT:


1.5 Reference to Questionnaire(s) on SLM Approaches (documented using WOCAT)

2. Description of the SLM Technology

2.1 Short description of the Technology

Definition of the Technology:

No tillage preceded by subsoiling consists in the use of a subsoiler at a 50 cm depth every 5 years before performing no tillage agriculture.

2.2 Detailed description of the Technology


In the “secano interior” of the Mediterranean climate area of central Chile, water erosion and inappropriate agricultural systems along hillslopes are the major causes of soil degradation.
Subsoil tillage is performed with a three-pointed 50-cm chisel plough (see photo), without turning the soil. Subsoiling is needed every five years to break the hard pan after soil compaction. Then crops are directly seeded without any tillage and with stubble left on the field.

Purpose of the Technology: Subsoiling before zero tillage agriculture mitigates water erosion compared to the traditional tillage. In heavy rainfall events, zero tillage reduced soil loss by more than 72% compared to conventional tillage. In addition, the runoff coefficient during the rainy period was 70% lower with zero tillage These results show the importance of conservation tillage and crop stubble management for decreasing erosion, especially in years when extreme rainfall events lead to a high potential for soil erosion. In relation to soil compaction, comparing the resistance to penetration in the soil profile, the traditional tillage system showed a strongly compacted layer at a depth of 10 cm (>1300 kPa), which increased to over 2000 kPa at depths of 15-20 cm. In contrast, no tillage preceded by subsoiling showed less compaction, beyond 20 cm below the threshold of 2000 kPa, defined by several authors as the critical threshold for radicular growth. Moreover, cereal production showed higher biomass and grain yield. It is concluded that subsoiling before no tillage agriculture with stubble retained on the surface was the best option to mitigate soil erosion.

Establishment / maintenance activities and inputs: The main disadvantage of the system is that the farmer requires more capital to lease machinery, which in the traditional system is done with animal traction, and the horses or oxen are from their own property. However, the improved yield covers the machinery lease costs. Additionally, the system pushes small farmers into co-operatives, because it is not possible for everyone to own the equipment. To resolve this problem the project promoted the creation of small enterprises (of 10 people) to jointly purchase no-tillage machinery.

Natural / human environment: The area has a subhumid Mediterranean climate with an average annual precipitation of 695 mm (80% concentrated in winter), with five months of drought. Soils are Alfisols of the Cauquenes type, classified as Ultic Palexeralfs. The soil is made up of materials of granite origin with moderate acidic conditions and low organic carbon. Soil clay content is 15% between 0 and 18 cm depth, below this depth it is higher than 44%. Topography is a hillside with 10 to 20 % slope and the main traditional crop rotation is oat-wheat or wheat-natural pasture.

2.3 Photos of the Technology

2.5 Country/ region/ locations where the Technology has been applied and which are covered by this assessment



Region/ State/ Province:

Bíobio and Maule region

Further specification of location:


Specify the spread of the Technology:
  • evenly spread over an area
If the Technology is evenly spread over an area, specify area covered (in km2):



Total area covered by the SLM Technology is 10 sq km.

2.6 Date of implementation

If precise year is not known, indicate approximate date:
  • less than 10 years ago (recently)

2.7 Introduction of the Technology

Specify how the Technology was introduced:
  • through projects/ external interventions

3. Classification of the SLM Technology

3.1 Main purpose(s) of the Technology

  • reduce, prevent, restore land degradation

3.2 Current land use type(s) where the Technology is applied

Land use mixed within the same land unit:


Specify mixed land use (crops/ grazing/ trees):
  • Agro-silvopastoralism

الأراضي الزراعية

الأراضي الزراعية

  • Annual cropping
  • Perennial (non-woody) cropping
  • Tree and shrub cropping
Annual cropping - Specify crops:
  • legumes and pulses - other
  • wheat, lentils
Tree and shrub cropping - Specify crops:
  • grapes
Number of growing seasons per year:
  • 1

Longest growing period in days: 300; Longest growing period from month to month: Mar-Nov

Is crop rotation practiced?


If yes, specify:

Crop rotation lentil-wheat in no tillage

أراضي الرعي

أراضي الرعي

Animal type:
  • sheep

major crop: Wheat, lentil and vineyards
Major land use problems (compiler’s opinion): The soil shows severe water erosion. 75% of the area has slope over 15% and most soils are moderately to severely eroded. Soils with low infiltration (only 4%) are very compacted, because of agricultural practices.

Major land use problems (land users’ perception): The soil presents a severe water erosion.

Mixed: (eg agro-pastoralism, silvo-pastoralism): sheep

Livestock is grazing on crop residues

3.3 Has land use changed due to the implementation of the Technology?

Has land use changed due to the implementation of the Technology?
  • Yes (Please fill out the questions below with regard to the land use before implementation of the Technology)
الأراضي الزراعية

الأراضي الزراعية

  • Annual cropping

3.4 Water supply

Water supply for the land on which the Technology is applied:
  • rainfed

3.5 SLM group to which the Technology belongs

  • minimal soil disturbance

3.6 SLM measures comprising the Technology

agronomic measures

agronomic measures

  • A4: Subsurface treatment

Type of agronomic measures: cover cropping, mineral (inorganic) fertilizers, breaking compacted topsoil, zero tillage / no-till

3.7 Main types of land degradation addressed by the Technology

physical soil deterioration

physical soil deterioration

  • Pc: compaction

Main type of degradation addressed: Pc: compaction

Main causes of degradation: soil management, Heavy / extreme rainfall (intensity/amounts), poverty / wealth, education, access to knowledge and support service

3.8 Prevention, reduction, or restoration of land degradation

Specify the goal of the Technology with regard to land degradation:
  • prevent land degradation
  • reduce land degradation

Secondary goals: mitigation / reduction of land degradation

4. Technical specifications, implementation activities, inputs, and costs

4.1 Technical drawing of the Technology

Technical specifications (related to technical drawing):

Photo of subsoiling drill.
The subsoiler is a 3-point chisel plough that breaks up the soil hardpan to a depth of 30 to 50 cm.

Location: Bíobio and Maule Region. Cauquenes, Chile

Date: 2007

Technical knowledge required for land users: high

Main technical functions: improvement of topsoil structure (compaction), increase of infiltration, increase / maintain water stored in soil

Secondary technical functions: control of raindrop splash, control of dispersed runoff: retain / trap, control of dispersed runoff: impede / retard, improvement of ground cover, increase in organic matter

Cover cropping
Material/ species: Wheat straw
Quantity/ density: 2,5 tn/ha


Carlos Ruiz

4.2 General information regarding the calculation of inputs and costs

Specify currency used for cost calculations:
  • USD

4.3 Establishment activities

Activity Timing (season)
1. No tillage machinery
2. Subsoiling every 5 years

4.4 Costs and inputs needed for establishment

Specify input Unit Quantity Costs per Unit Total costs per input % of costs borne by land users
Labour Subsoiling unit 1,0 50,0 50,0 100,0
Equipment Renting seeder machine unit 1,0 60,0 60,0
Equipment Renting subsoiling machine unit 1,0 70,0 70,0
Total costs for establishment of the Technology 180,0
Total costs for establishment of the Technology in USD 180,0

4.5 Maintenance/ recurrent activities

Activity Timing/ frequency
1. Herbicide application
2. Seeding
3. Fertilization

4.6 Costs and inputs needed for maintenance/ recurrent activities (per year)

Specify input Unit Quantity Costs per Unit Total costs per input % of costs borne by land users
Labour Herbicide application unit 1,0 20,0 20,0
Equipment Renting seeder machine unit 1,0 60,0 60,0
Plant material Seeds unit 1,0 50,0 50,0
Fertilizers and biocides Fertilizer unit 1,0 174,0 174,0
Fertilizers and biocides Herbicide unit 1,0 20,0 20,0
Total costs for maintenance of the Technology 324,0
Total costs for maintenance of the Technology in USD 324,0

Machinery/ tools: Animal traction and No tillage machine

4.7 Most important factors affecting the costs

Describe the most determinate factors affecting the costs:

Availability of machinery is the most determining factor affecting the costs.

5. Natural and human environment

5.1 Climate

Annual rainfall
  • < 250 mm
  • 251-500 mm
  • 501-750 mm
  • 751-1,000 mm
  • 1,001-1,500 mm
  • 1,501-2,000 mm
  • 2,001-3,000 mm
  • 3,001-4,000 mm
  • > 4,000 mm
Specifications/ comments on rainfall:

80% rainfall between May - August

Agro-climatic zone
  • sub-humid

Thermal climate class: temperate

5.2 Topography

Slopes on average:
  • flat (0-2%)
  • gentle (3-5%)
  • moderate (6-10%)
  • rolling (11-15%)
  • hilly (16-30%)
  • steep (31-60%)
  • very steep (>60%)
  • plateau/plains
  • ridges
  • mountain slopes
  • hill slopes
  • footslopes
  • valley floors
Altitudinal zone:
  • 0-100 m a.s.l.
  • 101-500 m a.s.l.
  • 501-1,000 m a.s.l.
  • 1,001-1,500 m a.s.l.
  • 1,501-2,000 m a.s.l.
  • 2,001-2,500 m a.s.l.
  • 2,501-3,000 m a.s.l.
  • 3,001-4,000 m a.s.l.
  • > 4,000 m a.s.l.

5.3 Soils

Soil depth on average:
  • very shallow (0-20 cm)
  • shallow (21-50 cm)
  • moderately deep (51-80 cm)
  • deep (81-120 cm)
  • very deep (> 120 cm)
Soil texture (topsoil):
  • medium (loamy, silty)
Topsoil organic matter:
  • low (<1%)
If available, attach full soil description or specify the available information, e.g. soil type, soil PH/ acidity, Cation Exchange Capacity, nitrogen, salinity etc.

Soil fertility is very low

Soil drainage / infiltration is good

Soil water storage capacity is low

5.4 Water availability and quality

Ground water table:

5-50 m

Availability of surface water:

poor/ none

Water quality (untreated):

good drinking water

5.5 Biodiversity

Species diversity:
  • medium

5.6 Characteristics of land users applying the Technology

Market orientation of production system:
  • mixed (subsistence/ commercial)
Off-farm income:
  • 10-50% of all income
Relative level of wealth:
  • poor
Individuals or groups:
  • individual/ household
Level of mechanization:
  • animal traction
  • mechanized/ motorized
  • men
Indicate other relevant characteristics of the land users:

Land users applying the Technology are mainly Leaders / privileged

Population density: 10-50 persons/km2

Annual population growth: < 0.5%

and own 60% of the land.

5.7 Average area of land used by land users applying the Technology

  • < 0.5 ha
  • 0.5-1 ha
  • 1-2 ha
  • 2-5 ha
  • 5-15 ha
  • 15-50 ha
  • 50-100 ha
  • 100-500 ha
  • 500-1,000 ha
  • 1,000-10,000 ha
  • > 10,000 ha
Is this considered small-, medium- or large-scale (referring to local context)?
  • small-scale

5.8 Land ownership, land use rights, and water use rights

Land ownership:
  • individual, titled
Land use rights:
  • individual
Water use rights:
  • individual

5.9 Access to services and infrastructure

  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
technical assistance:
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
employment (e.g. off-farm):
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
roads and transport:
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
drinking water and sanitation:
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
financial services:
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good

6. Impacts and concluding statements

6.1 On-site impacts the Technology has shown

Socio-economic impacts


crop production


risk of production failure


land management

Income and costs

expenses on agricultural inputs


farm income




Socio-cultural impacts

food security/ self-sufficiency


community institutions


SLM/ land degradation knowledge


livelihood and human well-being

Comments/ specify:

mproved tillage improves crop yields and thus household income increases

Ecological impacts

Water cycle/ runoff

surface runoff


soil cover


soil loss


soil crusting/ sealing


soil compaction


nutrient cycling/ recharge


soil organic matter/ below ground C

Biodiversity: vegetation, animals

biomass/ above ground C


6.2 Off-site impacts the Technology has shown

water availability


6.3 Exposure and sensitivity of the Technology to gradual climate change and climate-related extremes/ disasters (as perceived by land users)

Gradual climate change

Gradual climate change
Season increase or decrease How does the Technology cope with it?
annual temperature increase well

Climate-related extremes (disasters)

Meteorological disasters
How does the Technology cope with it?
local rainstorm well
Climatological disasters
How does the Technology cope with it?
drought not well

It is necessary to realize subsoiling to improve the yields

6.4 Cost-benefit analysis

How do the benefits compare with the establishment costs (from land users’ perspective)?
Short-term returns:


Long-term returns:


How do the benefits compare with the maintenance/ recurrent costs (from land users' perspective)?
Short-term returns:


Long-term returns:


6.5 Adoption of the Technology

  • 11-50%
If available, quantify (no. of households and/ or area covered):

100 households

Of all those who have adopted the Technology, how many did so spontaneously, i.e. without receiving any material incentives/ payments?
  • 0-10%

100% of land user families have adopted the Technology with external material support

100 land user families have adopted the Technology with external material support

There is no trend towards spontaneous adoption of the Technology

6.7 Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities of the Technology

Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities in the compiler’s or other key resource person’s view
No tillage preceded by subsoiling as part of the incentive programme for the recovery of degraded soils managed by the Agriculture and Livestock Service (SAG)

How can they be sustained / enhanced? Adjusting incentives according to timing of the expenses and investments and also conditioning incentives to the adoption of the technologies

6.8 Weaknesses/ disadvantages/ risks of the Technology and ways of overcoming them

Weaknesses/ disadvantages/ risks in the compiler’s or other key resource person’s view How can they be overcome?
The availability of machines is the main obstacle for adopting zero tillage and subsoiling To create and promote small companies of agricultural machinery, managed by farmers themselves. Two examples already exist in the counties of San Carlos and Ninhue.

7. References and links

7.1 Methods/ sources of information

7.2 References to available publications

Title, author, year, ISBN:

Title, author, year, ISBN:

Title, author, year, ISBN:

- Del Pozo, A., Del Canto, P. 1999. Areas agroclimaticas y sistemas productivos en la VII y VIII Región. (INIA)

Available from where? Costs?

Title, author, year, ISBN:

- Stolpe, Neal. 2006. Descripciones de los principales suelos de la VIII R de Chile. Depto. De Suelos y Rec. Naturales. Universidad de Concepción.

Available from where? Costs?

Links and modules

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