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tilling or manipulation of the soil, done primarily to eliminate weeds that compete with crops for water and nutrients. Cultivation may be used in crusted soils to increase soil aeration and infiltration of water; it may also be used to move soil to or away from plants as desired. Cultivation among crop plants is best kept at a minimum; excessive cultivation can be harmful as it may cause root pruning and loss of soil water due to increased evaporation.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



the loosening of tilled soil, without turning it over, and removal of weeds. Cultivation improves the air and water conditions in the soil, promotes the work of soil micro-organisms, and ensures optimal conditions for germination of the seeds of crop plants and their growth and development. Cultivation creates a loose layer on the surface of the soil that prevents moisture from rising by capillary action and rapidly evaporating from the soil surface. In addition it levels the plowed soil and is an effective means of combating weeds. Both trailing and mounted cultivators with various types of working parts are used. Cultivation is complete when the entire field is worked. The loosening of only the middle of the row of row and other crops is called interrow cultivation.

Complete cultivation is used in working land plowed in late fall and fallow land. As a rule fall-plowed land is cultivated in the spring to loosen the surface layer of the soil, which has become compacted during the winter, to improve air access, to accelerate soil warming, and to kill weeds. Spring cultivation of fall-plowed land before planting early spring crops is done a few days after harrowing or smoothing. At this time the soil is cultivated to the depth at which the seed will be placed in order to kill weed sprouts and to create a firm bed for the seed beneath the loose surface layer. Fall-plowed land is cultivated two or three times for weed control before planting late spring crops. The cultivation of fallow is particularly important in dry regions, where other methods of tillage, involving turning over the soil, cause considerable loss of moisture. To make the soil surface more level in the spring and to preserve moisture, complete cultivation of fallow and fall-plowed land is usually accompanied by harrowing. The first cultivation of fallow in the spring is done at a depth of 10–12 cm, with subsequent cultivations (during the summer) gradually reduced to 6–8 cm.


Zemledelie, 2nd ed. Edited by S. A. Vorob’ev. Moscow, 1972.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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