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Minimal Tillage in China
Minimal tillage is a tillage method that does not use a plow, reduces the tillage procedure to the necessary for crop production without destroying the soil structure at the proper time, and greatly reducing soil wind and water erosion, which mainly includes subsoiling and topsoil tillage and other tillage techniques.
2. General Situation of Minimal Tillage
2.1. Technical Mode of Less Tillage
|Subsoiling||Subsoiling refers to a tillage method that uses a matching subsoiler to break the plow pan layer and improve the soil structure of the plough layer without disturbing the original soil structure. It is regarded as an important part of the minimal method .||Subsoiling can break the hard bottom plough layer, loosen the soil, deepen the ploughing layer, improve the water permeability and air permeability of the soil and the soil aggregate structure , increase the soil water storage, promote the growth of crop roots and increase crop yield .||Subsoiling depth is significant, working resistance is considerable, increase in surface unevenness after operation , subsoiler is easy to wear, the bottom of subsoiling shovel tip will form the hard base ; subsoiling shovel processing is complex and high cost.|
|Topsoil tillage||As an important form of minimal tillage , topsoil tillage refers to the operation of the surface soil within 10 cm below the surface from harvest to planting before, which reduces the depth of soil tillage. It is also a key technology of conservation tillage.||Topsoil tillage can loosen the surface soil, reduce the surface straw coverage rate, level the surface, improve seeding quality, improve soil temperature , control weeds, diseases and insects , reduce soil water and wind erosion  and reduce operating costs.||Disturbance to the topsoil is significant, destroying the soil aggregate structure  and reducing the soil’s load-bearing capacity; successive years of topsoil tillage will cause the plow pan layer to move up .|
|Areas||Crop Species||Treatments||The Changes of Soil Physicochemical Properties and Crop Yields|
|Loess Plateau Dry Crop Zone ||Wheat||Deep plough;
|Compared with no-tillage, deep plow and subsoiling could decrease soil bulk density by 1.61% and 1.61%, increase soil porosity by 1.41% and 1.41%; The proportion of ≥0.25 mm soil particle size increased by 1.97%, 1.64%, the rainfall utilization efficiency increased significantly by 5.07% and 7.70%, the wheat yield increased considerably by 5.06–7.08%.|
|Latosol in Hainan Province ||Banana||Bulk subsoiling + rotary tillage;
chisel-type subsoiling + rotary tillage;
rotary tillage +Compaction
|Except for direct seeding, the firmness of 0~30 cm soil was significantly reduced. The “chisel-type subsoiling + rotary tillage” treatment was more effective than the “bulk subsoiling + rotary tillage” treatment in reducing the bulk density of the deep layer (30–45 cm), And the water content of each soil layer is higher than other treatment groups.|
|Saline alkali soil in northeast China ||Maize||Spring subsoiling 30 cm;
Spring subsoiling 40 cm;
Autumn subsoiling 30 cm;
Autumn subsoiling 40 cm;
|The subsoiling treatment can increase the soil moisture content of the arable layer and reduce the soil bulk density. The effect of autumn subsoiling was better than that of spring subsoiling. Compared with conventional ridge planting, the yields of autumn subsoiling 40 cm, autumn subsoiling 30 cm, spring subsoiling 40 cm and spring subsoiling 30 cm increased by 13.72%, 10.50%, 4.72% and 1.53%.|
|Dry farmland in northern China ||Spring maize||Bulk subsoiling + rotary till-age;
Chisel-type subsoiling + rotary tillage;
Traditional rotary tillage
|In 2015 (drought), “chisel-type subsoiling + rotary tillage” and “no-tillage seeding” increased yields by 34.86% and 33.64% compared with “traditional rotary tillage”, and in 2016 (abundant water) In 2016, “chisel-type subsoiling + rotary tillage” and “bulk subsoiling + rotary tillage” increased yields by 29.81% and 18.19% compared with “traditional rotary tillage”.|
|Loess Plateau ||Spring maize||no-tillage (NT)/conventional tillage (CT)/subsoiling tillage (ST);
subsoiling tillage (NT)/conventional tillage (CT);
Continuous subsoiling (ST)
|In 0–20 cm soil layer, soil bulk density in NT/CT/ST and ST/CT decreased by 7.0% and 11.5%, and soil porosity increased by 8.4% and 13.9%, respectively. In 20–40 cm soil layer, soil bulk density in ST/CT increased by 6.9%, and soil porosity decreased by 5.7%. The multi-year average of maize yield in NT/CT/ST treatment was 4.8% and 10.2% higher than that in NT/CT and ST.|
|Northern China ||Maize/wheat||subsoiling and rotary tillage;subsoiling and no tillage;
|Compared with rotary tillage and no-tillage, subsoiling and rotary tillage and subsoiling and no-tillage significantly increased the yield of maize and wheat by 8.62% and 10.17%.|
|Drip irrigation in south Xinjiang ||Cotton||Subsoiling 30 cm (TD1);
Subsoiling 40 cm (TD2);
Subsoiling 50 cm (TD3);
|The subsoiling reduced the bulk density of soil; Compared with CK, TD1, TD2 and TD3, the bulk density of 20–30 cm soil was reduced by 1.0%, 1.9% and 3.3%; the yield was 7.0%, 15.5% and 13.0%, respectively.|
2.2. Application Status of Minimal Tillage
3. Current Status of Key Techniques and Tools for Minimal Tillage
Research Progress of Topsoil Tillage Equipment
|1BZ-3.0 type Traction type bigoted heavy harrow ||disc harrow||This machine is suitable to eliminate stubble before ploughing, break the surface compaction, straw returning, level the surface and so on. It has strong adaptability. The maximum depth of cultivation is 20 cm, and auxiliary power is 58.8~73.6 kW.|
|1BQ-3 type vertical driving-type surface rotary tillage machine ||vertical driving-type tillage machine||Powered by the tractor’s output shaft of, the tillage layer is not disordered after the driving harrow operation, the rate of broken soil is reasonable, and the plowing depth is consistent. Auxiliary power is 88.2~132.4 Kw, and the operating depth is 3~18 cm.|
|1GQN-230B type rotary tiller ||rotary blades||The rotary tiller shaft is powered by the tractor’s output shaft, rotating and shredding the soil, with a supporting power of 51.5–73.5 kW and an operating depth of 12~16 cm.|
The entry is from 10.3390/agriengineering3030041
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