The agricultural sector remains vulnerable to water risks and a changing climate. The droughts we are currently facing have had a great impact on the agricultural sector and farming communities thus far. New ways must be explored to adapt and be innovative to conserve as much soil water as possible in farming systems, like seeding equipment for a drier future.
Over the last few years, famers who adopted Conservation Agriculture (CA) practices demonstrated that this system is more resilient to climatic changes than conventional production systems. With the increase in climatic resilience, farmers also increased their overall productivity. Conservation Agriculture consist out of three basic principles. This include reduced soil disturbance, residue retention and crop rotations. These principles must be practices in combination to allow the whole system to work successfully, rather than any one of them individually. Because of the need to reduce soil disturbance, seeding equipment was adapted. Currently, CA farmers rely on seed-drill equipment that place seed directly in the soil. This seeding operation is very important since this is the only practice during the season that allows preparation and/or disturbance of the seedbed. However, the influence of commercially available seed-drills on soil properties are not fully understood.
A study was conducted in the southern Cape region to compare seed-drills in terms of their influence on soil physical properties at various points during the growing season. Seed-drills with either double disc openers (A), tine openers (B) or a combination of tines and double chute single disc openers (C) were compared (Figure 1). Various economically important crops were established in the stony soils of the southern Cape with the mentioned seed-drills.
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