Tillage effects on compaction, earthworms and other soil quality indicators in Hungary

M. Birkás, M. Jolánkai, C. Gyuricza, A. Percze

Research output: Article

78 Citations (Scopus)


The philosophy toward tillage throughout the last century in Hungary can be characterized as a fight against extreme climatic and economic situations. The 'Hungarian reasonable tillage' approach that was promoted by Cserháti at the end of the 1800s was aimed at reducing tillage without increasing the risk of crop failure in arable fields. Recently, new tillage trends and systems have been introduced because of the rise in energy prices and because of the need to cut production costs, conserve soil and water resources and protect the environment. In Hungarian relation, the rationalized plowing, loosening and mulching systems are counted to the new tillage solutions. There are new steps in the sowing methods too, such as seedbed preparation and plant in one pass, till and plant, mulch-till and plant and direct drilling, which are environment capable, throughout improving soil condition and avoiding the environment harms. The applicability of various soil conservation tillage methods is currently being tested in research projects and discussed in workshops throughout the country. In this paper, soil quality problems such as compaction, trends in soil tillage, and factors affecting soil quality or condition as well as improvement and maintenance are summarized. The data show that annual disking and plowing causes subsoil compaction at the depth of tillage within 3 years and that the compacted layer expanded both in surface and deeper layers after the 5th year. Soil quality deterioration by tillage-pans was improved by subsoiling and maintained by direct drilling and planting soil-loosening catch crops. Within a loam and a sandy loam soil there were close correlations between earthworm activity and soil quality. Earthworm numbers increased on undisturbed but noncompacted soils and soils that included stubble residues remaining on the surface, but did not increase on soils that were deteriorated by tillage-pans or left bare by the absence of mulch. Our goal for the new millennium, is to use only enough tillage to create and maintain harmony between soil conservation, soil quality and crop production.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)185-196
Number of pages12
JournalSoil and Tillage Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - aug. 1 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Soil Science
  • Earth-Surface Processes

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