No-till farming is a way of growing crops from year to year without disturbing the soil through tillage. No-till is an emergent agricultural technique which can increase the amount of water in the soil and decrease erosion. It may also increase the amount and variety of life in and on the soil but may require increased herbicide usage.
Tilling is used to remove weeds, mix in soil amendments like fertilizers, shape the soil into rows for crop plants and furrows for irrigation, and prepare the surface for seeding. This can lead to unfavorable effects, like soil compaction; loss of organic matter; degradation of soil aggregates; death or disruption of soil microbes and other organisms including mycorrhiza, arthropods, and earthworms; and soil erosion where topsoil is blown or washed away. No-till farming avoids these effects by excluding the use of tillage. With this way of farming, crop residues or other organic amenities are retained on the soil surface and sowing/fertilizing is done with minimal soil disturbance. Continuous no-till has yield-limiting factors during the transition years, that is, the first years of no-till following a history of intensive conventional tillage. Some of the problems involve residue management and increased weed and disease infestations. The judicious use of crop rotations, cover crops and some soil disturbance may help reduce agronomic risks.