As the name
implies, usually no regular tillage of the soil is performed. The barley seed is
planted into non-tilled soil, and in-crop weeds are controlled with selective
herbicides. Barley grown as a no-till crop
in rotation with other cereals may contain volunteer grain of other species and
varieties. No-till production may not be suitable in some central and northern
parts of Alberta because soils under no-till culture are often cooler than
tilled soils, and the central and northern growing seasons may be too short.
In a no-till
cropping system, planting is the only operation that disturbs the soil. Only
25 to 35 percent of the soil surface is disturbed. Many farmers, however,
strive for less than 25 per cent disturbance. No-till is similar to low
disturbance direct seeding except that direct seeding systems allow some tillage
to deal with unusual conditions.
No-till aims to
minimize soil disturbance and maintain as much crop residue cover as possible.
This is so for several reasons: low disturbance reduces soil moisture loss, weed
seeds are less likely to germinate and grow on the undisturbed soil surface, low
disturbance systems use less fuel for field operations, crop residue cover
protects soil from wind and water erosion, standing stubble traps snow.