Nonmoldboard Soil Cultivation

Nonmoldboard Soil Cultivation


a method of loosening the soil with implements which do not turn over a furrow; it is used during primary deep and shallow fall soil cultivation, during the cultivation of fallow lands, and during preplanting preparation of the soil in the spring.

In the Soviet Union, deep soil cultivation without moldboard is done by deep ripper-subsurface cultivators, and shallow cultivation is done by subsurface cultivators and shank cultivators. These implements loosen the upper layer of soil to a lesser degree, preserving the stubble and other plant remains on the surface of the field. This is very significant under the conditions of the steppe areas (the Southern Urals, Western and Eastern Siberia, Altai Krai, and the Kazakh SSR). The stubble protects the soil against wind erosion and promotes better retention of snow on the fields, thereby promoting the accumulation of moisture in the soil.

There has been interest in soil cultivation without moldboard for a long time in many countries. During the 1880’s the Russian scientists D. I. Mendeleev and P. A. Kostychev did not consider it compulsory and necessary in all cases to cultivate soil by turning over furrows. At the end of the 19th century I. E. Owsinskii proposed his New System of Farming. It involved substituting multiple cultivation at a depth of 5–6 cm for deep moldboard plowing. At the start of the 20th century in the southern regions of France, shallow soil cultivation without moldboard using spring-tine cultivators was proposed in place of plowing. Soil cultivation without moldboard was studied in Germany (F. Achenbach and others, 1921). The methods of soil cultivation without moldboard were investigated in England (1933–36), but just as in Germany, they did not become widespread. Soil cultivation without moldboard is widely practiced in Canada in order to protect the soil against wind erosion. In 1943 the American farmer E. Foulkner proposed that ordinary plowing be replaced by superficial cultivation without moldboard; he expressed the opinion that deep moldboard plowing disrupts the normal biochemical processes in the soil and promotes erosion.

In the USSR the idea of soil cultivation without moldboard was developed by the learned kolkhoz farmer and experimenter T. S. Mal’tsev. During the 1940’s, on the basis of many years of experiments, he came to the conclusion that it was necessary to reject the use of moldboard plowing on the chernozem soils of the Trans-Ural Region. Mal’tsev recommended that deep soil cultivation without moldboard, using plows with the moldboards removed, be alternated with superficial, multiple cultivation with disc tillers. Such a system of soil cultivation has been insuring yields of spring wheat of up to 20 quintals and more per hectare for many years at the Zavety Lenina Kolkhoz in Shadrinsk Raion, Kurgan Oblast. However, experiments conducted in steppe and forest steppe zones of Western Siberia and Kazakhstan have shown that the shortcoming of this system of soil cultivation is that the disc tillers destroy the stubble and strongly pulverize the soil. Therefore, this system has not become widespread in wind erosion areas.

Research on soil cultivation without moldboard, applicable to the steppe regions in the Soviet Union, is being continued by the Ail-Union Scientific Research Institute of Grain, which is working to introduce soil cultivation without moldboard using new implements of the subsurface cultivator type which ensure the preservation of the stubble on the surface of the soil. The better moistening of the soil when it is cultivated without a moldboard makes it possible to receive higher yields of spring wheat and other crops in the arid steppe regions. For example, at the experimental farm of the All-Union Scientific Research Institute of Grain, the average yield over a seven-year period (1961–67) was 11.5 quintals per hectare of spring wheat from the production plantings which had been cultivated without moldboard, while the land which had been plowed with a moldboard in the fall produced 9.0 quintals. The institute is making a comprehensive study of soil cultivation without moldboard as part of the general complex of antierosion (soil protection) measures it has developed.


Ovsinskii, I. E. Novaia sistema zemledeliia. Moscow, 1911. (Translated from Polish.)
Mal’tsev, T. S. Voprosy zemledeliia: Sbornik statei i vystuplenii. Moscow, 1955.
Bennet, H. H. Osnovy okhrany pochvy. Moscow, 1958. (Translated from English.)
Foulkner, E. Bezumie pakharia. Moscow, 1959. (Translated from English.)
lakhtenfel’d, P. A. Kul’tura iarovoi pshenitsy v Sibiri. Moscow, 1961.
Problemy sel’skogo khoziaistva Severnogo Kazakhstana i stepnykh raionov Zapadnoi Sibiri: Materialy vyezdnoi sessii VASKhNIL. Moscow, 1967.


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