Direct Drilling with seed drill

Direct drilling, also known as no-till farming or zero-till farming, is an agricultural practice that involves planting crops without prior ploughing or cultivation of the soil.

Some of the key principles of direct drilling:


Minimal Soil Disturbance: The primary principle of direct drilling is to disturb the soil as little as possible. Unlike conventional farming methods that involve ploughing and extensive soil cultivation, direct drilling aims to create minimal disruption to the soil structure.

Residue Retention: Direct drilling encourages the retention of crop residues, such as stubble and plant material, on the field's surface. These residues act as a natural mulch, helping to conserve soil moisture, reduce erosion, and provide organic matter to the soil.

Reduced Soil Compaction: Direct drilling practices often involve the use of specialized equipment that exerts less pressure on the soil compared to traditional ploughing and cultivation equipment. This helps minimize soil compaction, which can improve root growth and water infiltration.

Crop Rotation and Diversity: Implementing crop rotation and diversification of crops within a direct drilling system can help break pest and disease cycles, improve soil nutrient cycling, and enhance overall system resilience.

Precision Planting: Precision planting equipment is used to create small openings or furrows in the untilled soil for seed placement. This ensures that seeds are properly spaced and at the correct depth for optimal germination and growth.

Weed and Pest Management: Direct drilling often requires different weed and pest management strategies compared to conventional tillage. These may include the use of herbicides, cover crops, and integrated pest management practices to control weeds and pests.

Nutrient Management: Nutrient management practices must be adjusted to account for reduced soil disturbance. This may involve the use of soil tests and targeted fertilizer applications to ensure that crops receive the necessary nutrients.

Monitoring and Adaptation: Farmers practicing direct drilling should closely monitor their fields and adapt their practices as needed. This includes adjusting seeding rates, selecting appropriate crop varieties, and addressing any emerging challenges such as weed resistance


Common methods and equipment 

1. No-Till seed drills - Specialized planting machines designed for direct drilling. They create small furrows in the untilled soil and place seeds at the desired depth

2. Seed broadcasting - seeds may be broadcast or spread evenly across the field surface without any furrows or rows being created. This method is more common for certain types of crops, such as cover crops, The specific implementation of direct drilling may vary depending on factors such as climate, soil type, crop choices, and local conditions, so farmers often need to tailor their practices to suit their unique circumstances

3. Precision agriculture Technologies - advanced technologies, such as GPS-guided tractors and planting equipment, are often used in direct drilling to ensure precise seed placement and row spacing.

4. Strip tillage - Strip tillage combines aspects of no-till and conventional tillage. It involves disturbing only a narrow strip of soil where the crop row will be planted, leaving the rest of the field untilled.

Related Organisations

Content below is from across the PEP community and is not necessarily endorsed by Stewards or by PEP

Connected Content

Regenerative farming looks to optimise the use of the ecological system and environment, in order to benefit from the natural ecosystem services that they provide.

There is a lot of interest in soil carbon currently, due to the opportunity to store and sequester carbon in soil. It is also vital for soil health, forming part of soil organic matter.

The Claydon Opti-Till® System, is a holistic approach to crop establishment which delivers consistent, high yielding crops at low cost, providing maximum profitability. At the centre of Opti-Till® Seed Drilling System is the Claydon direct strip Hybrid drill, with its unique leading tine technology.

Direct Driller is a new farming magazine, designed by farmers for farmers to educate and inform the industry about direct drilling and no-till techniques, soil regeneration and soil conservation in arable and mixed farming situations. Direct Driller Magazine is available free to all farmers and agronomists who register with us and can be received in the post or via email depending on your preference. The key aim of Direct Driller is to help farmers to take back control of their farms and businesses and find a way of growing healthy crops using minimal effort and the correct inputs. It will be content put on by farmers, for farmers. We will showcase all the latest machinery and techniques, but the core of the Magazine is all about the soil and how you can use machinery, inputs and biology to improve it.

Share resources, groups and projects that you've found helpful for soil management.

Soil carbon is undoubtedly important for crop production and soil workability. While incredibly v

Lots of people claim to have increased their soil organic matter levels by using minimum tillage

A group of farmers in the Evenlode catchment is working working with Thames Water and Atkins Glob

Crop yields from zero tillage practices improve with time. Controlled traffic farming increases c

Write whatever you want here - this is the main section. You can add links, add pictures and embed videos. To paste text from elsewhere use CTRL+Shift+V to paste without formatting. Add videos by selecting 'Full HTML' below, copying the 'embed html' from the source page (eg Youtube), clicking 'Source' above and pasting where you want the video to appear.
You can upload an image here. It can be jpg, jpeg, gif or png format.
Upload requirements

You can upload a file here, such as a pdf report, or MS Office documents, Excel spreadsheet or Powerpoint Slides.

Upload requirements
Authors Order
Add Authors here - you can only add them if they already exist on PEP. Just start writing their name then select to add it. To add multiple authors click the 'Add another item' button below.

Please ensure that you have proof-read your content. Pages are not edited further once submitted and will go live immediately.