What is tillage and why do farmers choose to do it?

Some farmers dig, stir, and overturn their soil with the intent of helping crops. Known as tillage, this process uproots weeds that otherwise compete for nutrients and water. Some farmers are able to choose reduced or conservation tillage, which leaves crop residue on the ground to decay and return nutrients and carbon to the soil.

With the advancement of herbicide-tolerant crops, farmers are able to preserve soil health by carefully and knowledgeably applying herbicides with the help of digital tools to control weeds, rather than using tillage for weed control. These tools, including data analytics and precision sprayers, help farmers spray precisely the amount required for their fields.

However, both methods come with some trade-offs. Finding the right approach depends on many factors, and no one system is suitable for all soil types.