Usually 'conventional' ploughing, where the topsoil is turned down to a depth of 15-45 cm. The top aerated (aerobic) soil layer is deposited at the bottom and the bottom anaerobic layer is deposited at the top, or mixed together, thus damaging and destroying the established soil life. The agitated layer loosens, but this is only temporary or often excessive. Meanwhile, below the cultivation depth, a thick, compacted layer, known as the ectal layer, is formed. This is often impenetrable to plant roots.
Rotation without cultivation:
Cultivation without ploughing, where all tools other than the plough are allowed. Loosener, grubber, combiner, short disc, ploughshares. Common feature is that they work only vertically, loosening, no rotation, possibly minimal mixing. Here too, the aim is to minimise soil disturbance. The appropriate depth of cultivation should be determined by mechanically testing the soil layers, even before each cultivation. For this test, a shovel, a farmer's hoe or a penetrometer is used. The analysis is aided by all our senses and experience.
Min-Till, minimum tillage:
If necessary, cultivation of up to the top 10 cm for mechanical weeding or seedbed preparation. The tool may be either a drag or disc cultivator.
Strip-Till, strip-till :
Only the strip of seed rows is cultivated, usually 20-25 cm wide. The furrows are left untilled, typically with mulch.
No-till, direct seeding:
There is no form of tillage prior to sowing in the production area. When sowing, the disc or cultivator sowing unit opens the soil surface only to the extent necessary to form the seed furrows and then recompacts the seed trench. The required nutrients are applied to the seed in a single operation, either in liquid and/or solid form, next to or under the seed. Subsequent addition of nutrients can be done by injection or foliar application.
Zero-till is the lowest degree of soil disturbance compared to direct seeding. The disc of the single-disc seeding unit used cuts the soil surface at an angle, lifts the soil slightly and then drops it back onto the inserted seed. After sowing, the sown row is almost imperceptible.
Mixtures of crops sown between the main crops, but often also providing continuous crop cover in the row spacing. Due to their wide diversity, they provide a wide range of benefits in terms of soil life and nutrient cycling. When used correctly, they perform a wide range of functions in addition to building soil life: soil loosening, weed suppression, nutrient digestion, nutrient storage, nitrogen fixation.
Destruction of mature cover crop stock before sowing or after direct sowing. May be by mechanical methods (windrowers, shredding rollers, short discs) or chemical methods.
Carbon is the basis of organic life. During the process of photosynthesis, plants fix carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. They return a significant fraction of the oxygen to the atmosphere, making life on earth possible today. Plants store some of the carbon they sequester in their biomass (both in roots and above the surface) and some of it is used to feed organisms in the soil, thereby also helping to form humus. The richer the plant cover of an area and the denser its root system, the more carbon is stored in the soil. In crop production, carbon sequestration is possible by not ploughing and by using cover crops. In livestock production, holistic, intensively managed grazing allows carbon to accumulate in the soil.
The diversity of life forms in an area and the interactions between individuals is biodiversity. Its decline is having extremely detrimental consequences for the Earth's ecosystem as a whole and, within it, for humanity. One of the biggest drivers of the current biodiversity crisis is monoculture-based agriculture. Regenerative agriculture pays particular attention to increasing above- and below-ground biodiversity, as it has a direct impact on nutrient cycling, soil health and quality, and plant resistance to disease. To increase diversity, regenerative farmers use a diverse rotation and cover crops. They provide habitat for pollinating insects and create buffer zones or forest strips to protect fields.