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10 June 2019

Conservation tillage in hillside soil

Farm work in hillside soil

Dear all at Bellota Agrisolutions: I would appreciate it if you could give me a few recommendations on the type of farm machinery to use and the sequence of the tasks required to till the land before sowing the crops, in the context of conservation tilling or minimum tillage. The current conditions of the soil are as follows: 1. Hillside soil (from 12 to 15% slope) with soil compaction problems in the first soil profile (more or less the first 30 cm of the soil). 2. It has not been used for planting before and at the moment it has mainly grass plant cover, which can grow to a significant height if it is not cut. 3. The soil has a clay loam texture. 4. The soil analysis highlights acidity problems and the need to add plenty of organic matter. I want to do the following: Break up and loosen the compact soil, plough the land to improve its structure, use and add dolomite lime and organic fertilizer and leave the soil in suitable conditions for sowing. Thank you for your time, I look forward to hearing from you, kind regards.

As it is a hillside plot of land with a slope of between 12 and 15%, conservation tillage techniques must be used. To till the land the chisel plough or the curved subsoiler must be used. You will have to go over the land at least twice, crossing over at 45º. The first time it is more superficial and the second time it goes down deeper to 30 cm. The cut vegetation must stay on the surface of the soil; coulters that turn over the soil can be used on the chisel plough, to bury it slightly.

This might be dangerous due to the stability of the tractor, depending on the contour lines. The best thing would be to work at an acute angle in the direction of the slope.

If there is a lot of vegetation, before using the chisel plough to penetrate the soil, it is advisable to use a string trimmer or a light disc harrow. To bury the mineral fertilizers and the organic soil conditioners a light disk harrow should be used, together with the chisel plough; it is important to keep the waste near the surface to control erosion. If the mineral fertilizer is also used it can be added using the seed drill for semi-direct seeding. In the beginning I don’t think you will be able to seed “directly”. You might be able to do so in the future as the structure of the soil improves and the organic matter content increases.

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