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No Till + Crop Rotation + Pesticide Stewardship = Better Agriculture

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Abstract:

During the late 19th century, Argentina developed the “Pampas green revolution”. With European technologies, such as imported British cattle to improve our herds, meat processing plants, chilled beef, alfalfa pastures, wheat, flax and a railway network Argentina was able to expand its economy and export products mainly to Europe. However, this impulse started to fade due to protectionism and errors in domestic policies following the economic crisis in the 1930s and then WWII.

But during the 1990s we started the second Pampas green revolution. China began to need more and more quantities of food, especially vegetable protein, and increased the importation of soybeans. This stimulated an increase in the area of soybeans so that today there are more than 18 million hectares in Argentina. At the same time, we had a new generation of farmers that started thinking about sustainability as a concept. We learned that it is unacceptable to grow crops and at the same time have soil erosion, and to increase the use of pesticides without trying to do it in a responsible way. The combined effort of a network of farmers and companies enabled us to develop a no till technology adapted to our soils and climate so that now we can say proudly that 80 % of the actual land under agriculture, excluding natural grassland, is under this technology. At the beginning this was not easy as we had to design new machinery (New seed drills) , redesign combine harvesting equipment, experiment with new herbicides and deal with low soil temperatures, as we did not plough our land. The most important thing was to educate and convince our farmers, especially senior farmers, that there was a new way to farm our land, much better, but you have to change the way you always thought of things. A new paradigm was born!

No more huge tractors pulling heavy ploughs! No more tillage machinery! Less oil needed for tillage. But we had to use more fertilizers, and be really accurate with weed control. Farmers benefitted in regions with not much rain, because we could save water by avoiding tillage and protecting soil from evaporation by stubble protection. Erosion was reduced by 80%. Costs were reduced by more than 50% as the number of passes with tillage machinery, including plough or chisel has decreased from 3–5 to just one, the seed drill.

Keywords: ARGENTINA; DIRECT DRILLING; GM CROPS; MAIZE; NO TILL; SOYBEANS

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1564/23feb07

Publication date: February 1, 2012

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