One of the major inputs into a farm field is the cost in terms of monetary value and carbon of fuel during tillage processes. Drives towards reduced carbon input are leading to higher interest in lower tillage soil management.

However, soil management through tillage has significant impacts on soil structure. These changes can occur immediately, through to the medium and long term.
In addition, the seasonal variation impacts on soil through weathering causing structure breakdown and in sum situations soil erosion. The latter can be mitigated by enhanced plant cover over the winter months.

This trial was set up in the Autumn of 2017 to investigate the long-term transition from traditional inversion plough system to no-till systems with the aim of understanding changes in the complex interactions between crop management, soil structure and function and crop productivity, in a simplified rotation system. The trial runs in paralell to the Centre for Sustainable Cropping (CSC).

Greive House is a split:split:split fully replicated randomised block design. Each replicate runs approximatly west to east, with four replicates from 1 at the north end of the field to 4 at the southern end of the field. The replicates are split into subplots of Rotation: “Spring Rotation” or “Winter Rotation”. Each Subplot is split into a Tillage sub:sub plot: “Plough / Inversion Tillage” or “No-Till”. This produces 16 main Rotation x Tillage blocks.

Arial View of Grieve’s House Tillage Trial with main 16 management blocks

Arial View of Grieve’s House Tillage Trial with main 16 management blocks

Rotations - comparison compares effects on soil and productivity, between soil that has been exposed to weather over the winter period (Spring Rotation), and soil that has been covered as much as possible by crops throughout all seasons (Winter Rotation)

Tillage - comparison compares effects on soil and producitivity, between traditional inversion plough to 20cm deep, with direct drill soil management.

Crops within the Block_of_16 Management blocks

Crops - Each Rotation x Tillage Subplot (Block of 16) is subdivided into four cropping years (in randomised positions).

The crops used in each year depend on the Rotations type but are consistent between the Tillage type. The cropping sequence within each rotation will be available through the Datadashboard.

Spring Cropping typically includes Spring barley and beans, and more recently Oats, Winter Cropping includes Winter wheat, winter barley, spring barley, cover crops (Rye and Radish), and beans, Oil seed rape.