Conservation tillage in UK arable cropping systems: Tivington [United Kingdom]

non-inversion tillage (eng); minimum tillage (eng), conservation agriculture (eng)

technologies_983 - United Kingdom

Completeness: 73%

1. General information

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

Key resource person(s)

SLM specialist:
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SLM specialist:

Oborn Jo

Farming wildlife advisory group

United Kingdom

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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:


1.4 Declaration on sustainability of the described Technology

Is the Technology described here problematic with regard to land degradation, so that it cannot be declared a sustainable land management technology?


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:

Surface cultivation of up to the top 10cm of soil but not complete inversion

2.2 Detailed description of the Technology


Machinery with discs or tines replace the plough for minimal cultivations of the soil. Equally crops may be established by no-tillage/ zero-tillage.

Purpose of the Technology: (i) soil protection (ii) improved crop establishment particularly through the speeding up of of operations.

Establishment / maintenance activities and inputs: appropriate machinery, soil condition and following crop all determine establishment. Maintenance: on an annual basis.

Natural / human environment: SOWAP ( project working with farmer to protect environment and maintain economic viability

2.3 Photos of the Technology

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


United Kingdom

Region/ State/ Province:


Further specification of location:



Total area covered by the SLM Technology is 0.007 km2.
Farm is a total of 126ha of which 28ha are grazed, 9ha are under environmental stewardship and 7ha are set aside. The total SWC technology area represents a project demonstration plot.

2.7 Introduction of the Technology

Specify how the Technology was introduced:
  • through projects/ external interventions
Comments (type of project, etc.):

From the USA where in the 1930's the 'dust-bowls' necessitated the development of soil conservation in intensive agriculture.

3. Classification of the SLM Technology

3.1 Main purpose(s) of the Technology

  • improve production
  • reduce, prevent, restore land degradation

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



  • Annual cropping
Annual cropping - Specify crops:
  • cereals - wheat (spring)
  • oilseed crops - sunflower, rapeseed, other
Number of growing seasons per year:
  • 1

Longest growing period in days: 300, Longest growing period from month to month: Sep - Jul


Major land use problems (compiler’s opinion): Soil erosion and compaction caused by inappropriate land use and intensive grazing respectively
Major land use problems (land users’ perception): Soil erosion and capping of the soil
Type of cropping system and major crops comments: winter wheat - winter oilseed rape - winter wheat - beans - winter wheat

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

  • A1: Vegetation/ soil cover
  • A3: Soil surface treatment
A3: Differentiate tillage systems:

A 3.1: No tillage


Type of agronomic measures: early planting, mulching, mineral (inorganic) fertilizers, minimum tillage, breaking compacted subsoil

3.7 Main types of land degradation addressed by the Technology

soil erosion by water

soil erosion by water

  • Wt: loss of topsoil/ surface erosion
  • Wo: offsite degradation effects
physical soil deterioration

physical soil deterioration

  • Pk: slaking and crusting

Main causes of degradation: other human induced causes (specify) (agricultural causes: focus on yields), labour availability (too much labour: attempting to maintain rural employment)
Secondary causes of degradation: education, access to knowledge and support services (lack of knowledge), insufficient time for farmers to consider the issu

3.8 Prevention, reduction, or restoration of land degradation

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

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

4.1 Technical drawing of the Technology

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Technical specifications (related to technical drawing):

Technical knowledge required for field staff / advisors: moderate
Technical knowledge required for land users: moderate

Main technical functions: improvement of soil structure
Secondary technical functions: control of raindrop splash, control of dispersed runoff: retain / trap, improvement of ground cover, increase in organic matter, increase in soil fertility

Early planting
Material/ species: crop
Quantity/ density: depends on
Remarks: residue chopped + spread over width of combine

Material/ species: crop residue
Quantity/ density: up to 5t/h

Mineral (inorganic) fertilizers
Material/ species: N,P,K, trace elements
Remarks: broadcast

Breaking compacted subsoil
Remarks: when required

4.2 General information regarding the calculation of inputs and costs

other/ national currency (specify):


If relevant, indicate exchange rate from USD to local currency (e.g. 1 USD = 79.9 Brazilian Real): 1 USD =:


4.5 Maintenance/ recurrent activities

Activity Timing/ frequency
1. Year1: light cultivation with discs 3rd-4th week in August / per crop
2. Year1: spray with non-selective herbicide (glyphosate) late August/ early September / per crop
3. Year1: drill late August/ early September, 3-4 days after spraying / per crop
4. Year1: roll (optional) after drilling / per crop

Additional info: - Year2: drill: mid September / per crop - Year2: roll: mid September / per crop - Year3: shallow sub-soil: November / per crop - Year3: drill: November / per crop

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
Equipment Equipment (year1) machine hour ha 1.0 148.0 148.0 100.0
Equipment Equipment (year2) machine hour ha 1.0 166.0 166.0 100.0
Equipment Equipment (year3) machine hour ha 1.0 113.0 113.0 100.0
Total costs for maintenance of the Technology 427.0
Total costs for maintenance of the Technology in USD 762.5

Machinery/ tools: Vaderstad Carrier, Vaderstad drill and roller

Only crop establishment costs are included as all other costs - seed, fertilisers, pesticides - are equivalent with those for conventionally mouldboard ploughing. The costs highlghted include labour. Equivalent crop establishment costs by ploughing are 225 (year1), 231 (year2), 190 (year3)

4.7 Most important factors affecting the costs

Describe the most determinate factors affecting the costs:

slope (steeper slopes require more horsepower), state of the soil, climate, crop

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
Specify average annual rainfall (if known), in mm:


Agro-climatic zone
  • sub-humid

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:
  • medium (1-3%)
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 medium

5.6 Characteristics of land users applying the Technology

Market orientation of production system:
  • commercial/ market
Off-farm income:
  • > 50% of all income
Relative level of wealth:
  • rich
Level of mechanization:
  • mechanized/ motorized
Indicate other relevant characteristics of the land users:

Population density: 10-50 persons/km2
Annual population growth: < 0.5%
5% of the land users are very rich and own 20% of the land.
10% of the land users are rich and own 20% of the land.
85% of the land users are average wealthy and own 60% of the land.

Off-farm income specification: Contracting work forms greater part of income

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


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

  • Other
Land use rights:
  • leased

6. Impacts and concluding statements

6.1 On-site impacts the Technology has shown

Socio-economic impacts


crop production

Comments/ specify:

perhaps most significant in early years

land management

Income and costs

expenses on agricultural inputs

Comments/ specify:

Possible increasing herbicide costs

farm income



Comments/ specify:

Timing of operations critical

Other socio-economic impacts

Preparation for new legislation

Comments/ specify:

CAP reform, Soil Action Plan for England, EU Water Framework directive


Comments/ specify:

operation twice as quick as ploughing

Machinery costs


Socio-cultural impacts

conflict mitigation


Acceptance by society

Comments/ specify:

Age differences: Tends to be taken up by younger farmers

Ecological impacts


soil moisture


soil cover


soil compaction

Biodiversity: vegetation, animals

animal diversity

Comments/ specify:

More earthworms compared to land that has been ploughed

pest/ disease control

Quantity before SLM:


Quantity after SLM:


Other ecological impacts

Soil fertility


6.2 Off-site impacts the Technology has shown

downstream siltation


6.4 Cost-benefit analysis

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

slightly positive

Long-term returns:


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

neutral/ balanced

Long-term returns:

neutral/ balanced

6.5 Adoption of the Technology


100% of land user families have adopted the Technology without any external material support
1 land user families have adopted the Technology without any external material support
There is a moderate trend towards spontaneous adoption of the Technology
Comments on adoption trend: Driven by economics

6.7 Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities of the Technology

Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities in the land user’s view
ncreased work rate making operations quicker
Better trafficability
Less at risk of weather
Earlier drilling. It is a systems approach - minimum tillage combined with early drilling and low seed rates
Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities in the compiler’s or other key resource person’s view
Increased work rate and cost effectiveness
Improved soil organic matter
Imrpoved water quality
Improved soil biodiversity

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

Weaknesses/ disadvantages/ risks in the land user’s view How can they be overcome?
Dependent on dry weather Co-operation with other farmers or larger acreage
Machinery more complex and expensive A combination of crop rotation, pesticides and stale seedbeds
Increasing grass weed populations Does not necessarily mean spending money eg utilising old equipment on farm like subsoilers. However, need the right attitude
Need to be experimental Accept advice for varying sources, talk to different people
Advice can be fragmented/ confusing
Weaknesses/ disadvantages/ risks in the compiler’s or other key resource person’s view How can they be overcome?
Technological knowledge of farmer Training and education, dissemination
Initial high capital investment Extended finance
Possible increasing weed populations More diverse management options - cultural and chemical
Need to expand acreage to cover capital costs More diverse crop rotation but perhaps this is insufficient to retain economic viability

7. References and links

7.1 Methods/ sources of information

  • field visits, field surveys
  • interviews with land users
When were the data compiled (in the field)?


7.2 References to available publications

Title, author, year, ISBN:

FWAG (Farming and Wildlife Advisory group)

Available from where? Costs?

7.3 Links to relevant online information

Title/ description:



Title/ description:

L and D farming


Title/ description:

Vaderstad machinery


Title/ description:

SOWAP project


Links and modules

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