Autumn Tillage

Autumn Tillage


fall plowing, or summer-fall tillage of soil for planting with spring crops the following year.

In Eastern Europe autumn tillage was employed as long ago as Kievan Rus’. In the small peasant farms of prerevolutionary Russia as well as during the first years of Soviet power, spring plowing predominated. In Western Europe autumn tillage has been gaining in acceptance since the early 19th century. The wide use of autumn tillage in the USSR began in large-scale socialist agriculture, on sovkhozes and kolkhozes.

Soil plowed before winter sets in readily absorbs autumn precipitation and better absorbs meltwater; nutrients accessible to plants, formed by the vital activity of aerobic bacteria, accumulate in it. Autumn tillage permits the successful elimination of numerous weeds, infestation of soil by pests wintering in the plant remains and the upper layers of the soil, and diseases of agricultural crops. It also promotes early scheduling of spring field operations, reducing their intensity.

Autumn tillage is carried out after the preceding crop has been harvested; following grain and other crops of continuous cropping, the stubble ground first undergoes shallow tillage, and then 15–20 days later, when the weed shoots appear, the soil is plowed. Organic and mineral fertilizers are applied during the plowing, and, on acidic soils, lime as well. The main procedure in autumn tillage is plowing with a mold-board plow, during which the soil is more readily crumbled and a more level surface results. In podzolic soils plowing is done to a depth of not less than 22–23 cm, employing various means of deepening the plowed layer. In fertile soils (for example, chernozem, chestnut, and irrigated gray-brown podzolic), the plowing depth often reaches 35 cm. Early fall plowing, begun in August, considerably increases the yield of farm crops, especially in arid regions and in the nonchernozem belt.

Fields under perennial grasses are plowed to their full depth, bypassing turning the stubble. Finer soil cultivation (to 12–16 cm) with till-plows is used for plowed crops when they are carefully handled and in the absence of perennial weeds; in regions subject to winter erosion (northern Kazakhstan, Western Siberia) nonmoldboard soil cultivation produces good results. A field cultivated by fall plowing usually is left unharrowed for the winter. An exception is represented by some areas of Eastern Siberia and the Far East where the soil dries up severely in the event of snowless or windy winters and by some steppe regions, especially in the Southern Ukraine and Northern Caucasus, where sometimes fall harrowing and cultivation of fall-plowed fields is employed to control weeds.


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