Does Strategic Tillage for Weed Control Make Sense in No-Till Cropping Systems?

Strategic tillage, as defined in a recent article from the University of Nebraska, is occasional tillage of long-term no-till, not occurring more frequently than once in 5 to 10 years. Also called one-time tillage, goals for this type of tillage can be alleviating soil compaction, incorporating soil amendments, or weed management.

Tillage can be incorporated as part of an integrated weed management program prior to the cropping season to bury weed seeds or kill existing vegetation. For small-seeded weeds with short longevity, such as Palmer amaranth and horseweed, occasional deep tillage can bury weed seeds deeper than they can emerge. If seeds remained buried for an extended period of time, seed viability will decrease significantly. More information is here.

A recent article from the University of Nebraska discusses the potential effects from strategic tillage, how this tillage can affect crop yields, and situations for which strategic tillage will be most effective. In general, soils studied were found to be resilient to occasional tillage. Strategic tillage should be in response to a well-identified purpose and the type of tillage should be specific to the desired objective.

Farmers should consider that not all soils are like those in Nebraska. Soils outside of the corn-belt may respond differently or take longer to return to a no-till state.

Find the article here:


  • Korres NE, Norsworthy JK, Young BG, Reynolds DB, Johnson WG, Conley SP, Smeda RJ, Mueller TC, Spaunhorst DJ, Gage KL, Loux M, Kruger GR, Bagavathiannan MV (2018) Seedbank persistence of Palmer amaranth (Amaranthus palmeri) and waterhemp (Amaranthus tuberculatus) across diverse geographical regions in the United States. Weed Science 66:446-456. doi: 10.1017/wsc.2018.27
  • Price AJ, Monks CD, Culpepper AS, Duzy LM, Kelton JA, Marshall WM, Steckel LE, Sosnoskie LM, Nichols RL (2016) High-residue cover crops alone or with strategic tillage to manage glyphosate-resistant Palmer amaranth (Amaranthus palmeri) in southeastern cotton (Gossypium hirsutum). Journal of Soil and Water Conservation 71:1-11. doi: 10.2489/jswc.71.1.1
  • Sosnoskie L, Webster T, Culpepper A (2013) Glyphosate resistance does not affect Palmer amaranth (Amaranthus palmeri) seedbank longevity. Weed Science 61:283-288. doi: 10.1614/WS-D-12-00111.1
  • VanGessel M, ed (2019) A Practical Guide for Integrated Weed Management in Mid-Atlantic Grain Crops. Accessed: March 16, 2020
  • Wortmann C and Blanco H (2020) Strategic tillage for the improvement of no-till cropping systems. Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources CropWatch, University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Accessed: March 16, 2020


  • Kara Pittman, Virginia Tech

Reviewed by:

  • Michael Flessner, Virginia Tech
  • Mark VanGessel, University of Delaware