Tillage: Meaning, Types, Objectives and Concepts | Agriculture

Meaning of Tillage and Tilth :

(i) The word tillage is derived from the Anglo-Saxon words ‘titian’ and ‘tooling’, means to plough and prepare soil for good seed to sow, to cultivate and raise crops.

(ii) “Tillage is the mechanical manipulation of the soil for obtaining conditions ideal for seed germination, seedling establishment and growth of crops”.

(iii) Jethrotull is the father of tillage.

(iv) Tilth is the good physical condition of soil after tillage in relation to plant growth.

Types of Tillage :

(i) Primary/Properly Tillage:

a. The tillage operation which constitutes the initial measure soil working operation. It is normally design to reduce soil strength, cover plant material and rearrange aggregates and mainly for seed bed preparation.

b. The main aim of primary plough is breaking, opening and turning of soil.

c. The primary tillage implements are Desha plough, MB plough. Ridge plough, Disk plough etc.

(ii) Secondary Tillage:

a. The tillage operation following primary tillage to create a good seedbed for proper seeding/planting.

b. The secondary tillage implements are Cultivator, Harrows, Hoe, Flanker, Roller etc.

Objectives of Tillage :

(i) Adequate soil aeration for gaseous exchange in the seed and root zone.

(ii) Adequate seed-soil contact to permit water flows to seed and seedling roots.

(iii) A non-crust soil contact to permit seedling emergence.

(iv) A low density soils that permit root elongation and proliferation.

(v) An environment that provides adequate light to the seedling (weed free environment).

(vi) A pest and pathogen free environment.

(vii) Mixing the applied manures and fertilizers with the soil, and

(viii) Removing the hard pan, if any to increase the soil depth for water absorption.

The aim of the tillage is to produce as good a soil condition or tilth as possible for crop establishment and initial shoot and root development.


When soil is brought to such a condition ideal for crop growth, it is called seed-bed and is said to be in good tilth. The ideal seed-bed is a soil in which porosity of the mineral solid matter provides an optimum balance between water holding and freely drained. The optimum balance appears to be the one in which capillary pores are in equal proportion.

Modern Concepts of Tillage :

Conventional Tillage:

(i) Minimum tillage

(ii) Zero tillage

(iii) Conservation tillage

Conventional Tillage :

Conventional tillage involves primary tillage to break, open and turn the soil followed by secondary tillage to obtain seed bed for sowing or planting. With the introduction of herbicides in intensive farming systems, the concept of tillage has undergone radical change:

(a) The depth of tillage has been reduced and cultivator replaced the plough as primary tillage implement, particularly on heavy soils.

(b) There has been an increasing trend to reduce the number of cultivations in order to avoid undesirable results of over cultivation.

© Reduction or elimination of tillage has been accompanied by direct drilling of seeds.

(d) The greatest success and potential for restricted tillage appear to be on heavy soils, where timeless of cultivation is so critical.

(e) The main disadvantages are that direct drilling favors proliferation of perennial weeds and certain pests and diseases. Nutrient leaching may be greater than on ploughed land. Response of direct drilled crops to fertilizers is lesser because of greater weed competition or slower crop establishment. Soil is invariably more compacted and proportion of large pores decreases.

(i) Minimum Tillage :

Minimum tillage refers to growing a crop using only that tillage needed for placing the seed at proper depth and then covering them. Thus minimum tillage aimed that reducing tillage to the minimum necessary for ensuring a good seed-bed, rapid germination, satisfactory stands and favorable growing condition.

Tillage can be reduced in 2 ways:

a. By omitting operations which do not give much benefits when compared to the cost, and

b. By combining agricultural operations like seeding and tillage.

Advantages of Minimum Tillage :

a. Improves soil conditions due to decomposition of plant residues insitu,

b. Improves soil physical condition due to incorporation of organic residues leading to higher water infiltration into the subsoil,

c. Higher infiltration is caused by the vegetation present on the soil and channels formed by the decomposition of dead roots,

d. Less resistant to root growth due to improved soil structure,

e. Lesser surface runoff of rain water,

f. Satisfactory crop stand establishment,

g. Less soil compaction by the reduced movement of heavy tillage vehicles and less erosion compared to conventional tillage.

Disadvantages of Minimum Tillage :

a. Seed germination is lower with minimum tillage,

b. In minimum tillage, more nitrogen has to be added as the rate of decomposition of organic matter is slow,

c. Nodulation is affected in some leguminous crop i.e. Field pea, Beans,

d. Sowing operations are difficult with ordinary implements,

e. Continuous use of herbicides causes pollution problem and dominance of perennial problematic weeds.

Methods of Practicing Minimum Tillage :

  1. Row zone tillage

  2. Plough plant tillage

  3. Wheel track planting

1. Row Zone Tillage :


Row zone tillage means after primary tillage with MB plough, 2ndy tillage operations like disking and harrowing are reduced. 2ndy tillage is done in row zone only.

2. Plough Plant Tillage :

After the soil is ploughed, a special planter is used and run over the field. The row zones are pulverized and seeds sown.

3. Wheel Track Planting :

Ploughing is done as usual. Tractor is used for sowing and the wheels of tractor pulverize the row zone.

(ii) Zero Tillage :


Zero tillage referred as no tillage in which the crop is planted in unprepared soil by opening a narrow slot, trench or band only of sufficient width and depth to obtund proper seed coverage. The weeds are controlled only by chemical means.

a. The word ‘Zero tillage’ was given by Jethrotull.

b. Zero tillage is possible where the soil has: (a) course textured surface, (b) good internal drainage and © adequate quantity of residue as mulch.

c. Problems of zero tillage are low seed germination, low mineralization and build up of volunteer plants.

d. Commonly used herbicides under zero tillage are parquet and piquet both.

(iii) Conservation Tillage :

Conservation tillage is a system of tillage in which organic residues are not inverted into the soil such that they remain on the surface as a protective cover against erosion and evaporation losses of soil moisture. If stubbles from the protective cover on surface, it is usually referred as stubble mulch tillage. The residues left on the soil surface interfere with seed-bed preparation and sowing operations.

Objective :

To conserve soil from erosion along with water (moisture).

a. Conservation tillage is also known as Stubble mulch tillage, Eco-fallow and Reduced tillage.

Tillage Implements and their works:

a. Chisel plough- Subsoil breaking

b. Rotary plough – Cut and pulverizes the light soil

c. Ridge plough – Earthling-up and form ridges and furrows

d. Basin luster – Prevent runoff and form basins

e. Disc plough – Deep ploughing in grassed field

f. Tractor drawn cultivator – Destroy weeds and breaking clods

g. Sweep cultivator – Harvesting groundnut and used in stubble mulching

h. Harrows – Preparation of seedbed, destroy weeds

i. Flanker – Micro leveling

j. Star weedier – Weeding in dry lands and groundnut

k. Potato digger – Used to harvest potatoes

l. Groundnut digger – Used to harvest G’nut

m. Gnat Sheller- Used to separate kernels from the pods.

n. Maize Sheller – Used to separate maize grains from cobs.

o. Seed dressing drum – Used to treat the seed with chemicals.

p. Hand gin – Used to separate lint from seed cotton.

Source: Yourarticlelibrary