No-till crop establishment on raised beds

Page last updated: Friday, 20 March 2015 - 8:30am

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The use of no-till crop establishment practice is essential for farming raised beds. Cultivation is likely to degrade the bed and furrow construction.

Why use no-till on raised beds?

There are five soil management objectives that require the use of no-till crop establishment practices on raised beds. These are:

  1. To maximise the retention and build-up of the organic matter of roots and their associated soil organisms to stabilise weak or dispersible soil structure.
  2. To retain the large pores created by roots and their associated organisms to enhance rapid infiltration and aeration of the root zone.
  3. To retain the roots as ‘reinforcing rods’ to minimise or prevent subsidence of the raised beds in wet conditions.
  4. To minimise disturbance and ‘spray’ of soil during cultivation and seeding to avoid the need to re-shape beds to restore their original height and width.
  5. To aid the control of weeds by minimising inter-row soil disturbance (and germination).

Minimising soil disturbance at seeding is desirable, but there are good reasons to ensure some disturbance occurs around the seed placement zone. These reasons are:

  • To control diseases like rhizoctonia bare patch, some of the septoria diseases, black spot in peas, ascochyta in faba beans and blackleg in canola.
  • To incorporate root-active herbicides such as trifuralin.
  • To mix fertiliser with soil close to the seed and minimise the risk of ‘fertiliser toxicity’ damage to germinating seeds.