Tillage study in Wheat


Benard Ngwene, AGCO Agronomist, Africa. Benard.ngwene@agcocorp.com


The objective is to show the effect of tillage treatment on wheat yield.


During the 2018/2019 cropping season, the MF 320 seed drill was used to plant wheat in a ripped field and in a no till field at the AGCO future farm in Zambia, and the yield was compared at maturity.


Overall grain yield was lower than average due to very low precipitation in this region during the 2018/2019 cropping season. Planting wheat with no till resulted in a 20% increase in grain yield (4.1 t/ha) over the ripped field (3.4 t/ha).

This yield increase was attributed to two factors. 1) Enhanced soil cover from maize straw of the previous season leading to an improved moisture conservation 2) Less soil disturbance resulting in better moisture conservation. Moisture management is very critical for crop production in this region.



Figure 1: Wheat yield in tons/ha dry matter at harvest. Wheat was planted with a wheat drill in a ripped field and in an untilled field.

Figure 2: Wheat seeded directly – no-till

Figure 3: Wheat seeded on a ripped field. (There are less soil disturbance and more soil cover in the no-till field.)

Figure 3: MF 320 seed drill used for the experiment.


Most soils in Zambia are very low in organic matter and sandy, which results in poor water holding capacity. Less soil disturbance and more soil cover are great moisture management practices that can improve yield especially when precipitation is insufficient.


Moisture management is very critical in most of Sub Saharan Africa. Therefore, you need to carefully chose your tillage system and reduce soil disturbance as much as possible. Irrespective of your tillage, the MF 320 seed drill will accomplish your seeding


The tillage trial showed a 0.7t/ha difference between ripped and no till plots. This equates to $245/ha revenue and saving cost of ripping – $50/ha, totaling $295/ha.


Assumptions: Price of wheat – $350/t

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