Scientific research

Holistic conservation agriculture (zero tillage technology of Kazakhstan)

Author: Knowledge Management in CACILM Phase II, ICARDA.

Definition of technology:

Zero-tillage technology is the process of growing crops without soil cultivation and harvesting of residues of previous crops.

Brief summary of technology:

Zero-tillage technology involves the abandonment of land tillage.  The main principle is to use the natural processes that occur in the soil. Untilled field has billions of capillaries within a 1-2 m soil horizon, left after penetration of the roots of annual plants  or formed as a result of the activity of soil organisms. Moisture moving along these thin deep channels saturates the soil and freezes in winter, tearing these channels apart. This is a natural process of the soil loosening. Seeding in stubble allows accumulating soil carbon, which in traditional technology escapes into the atmosphere during plowing and cultivation. Rules of crop cultivation in the system of a holistic conservation agriculture (zero tillage) are as follows:

1. Harvesting is carried out by combine harvesters with choppers, which chop and broadcast crop residues from thrashing  within the entire width of the working range of harvester;

2. After the harvest, the soil is not processed by any mechanical tools. Incorporation of mulch into the soil is prohibited. The soil should have a permanent mulch cover;

3. Before sowing, the field is treated with herbicides – glyphosate against weeds$

4. Seeding is done in a narrow strip of 2 cm width by anchor or disc coulters depending on the soil texture.

Location: Kostanay province.

Area of technology application: 1-100 000 ha.

Stage of intervention: prevention of land degradation.

Main land use issues and the main causes of land degradation:

Traditional methods of soil tillage, including plowing and numerous cultivations lead to the degradation of soil properties, destroy soil structure, causing the development of degradation processes (compaction, wind erosion, etc.).

Main technical features of technology:

Improving soil structure, moisture retention, increase of the humus and nutrients, improving vegetation cover, preserving carbon storage in the soil and reduced CO2 emissions.

Type of land use Conservation measures

Rainfed arable land.

Production of annual crops - Во(Ca).

Agronomic measures:

A1: Vegetation / soil cover.

Management measures:

У2: Change of management /level of intensity.


Habitat Anthropogenic environment

Average annual rainfall: 300-350 mm.

Altitude (meter above sea level): 183-188 m.

Landscape: plains, valley.

Slope (%): 0-2%.

Soil fertility: average.

Humus content in arable horizon: 1-2%.

Natural soil drainage/infiltration: average.

Size of land area (ha): 100 000 ha.

Landholder: large-scale land users.

Land ownership: state.

Water use rights: rainfer.

Market orientation: subsistence farming (self sufficiency); mixed farming (subsistence and commercial).


Impact of technology

Main advantages:

- helps to reduce production costs;

- saves fuel and reduces emissions of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere;

- improves soil properties, increasing the fertility and productivity;

- retains soil moisture due to mulching the surface.

Main disadvantages:

- require the use of herbicides;

- the risk of problems with pests and diseases.

Acceptance/adoption of technology:

This technology is used in the farms of Kostanai province:

- TOO "Karken" of the Mendykarin district (v. Kharkov);

- TOO "Agrofirm Dievskaya" of the Auliekol district (v. Myrzakol);

- LLP "Experimental Farm Zarechnoe" of the Kostanai district (v. Zarechnyi).


1. Diploma of the VIII Republican contest "Shapagat-2011" in the category "Inventor of the Year" awarded by the Minister of Justice, Minister of Industry and New Technologies, the Minister of Education and Science.

2. Dvurechensky V.I. Moisture and resources saving agriculture in arid steppe districts of Kazakhstan.

3. Dvurechensky V.I., Gilevich S.I. The application of resource-saving technologies in the steppe and dry steppe regions of Kazakhstan // Soil and agrochemistry.2010. #1. S. 31-38.

3. Dzhalankuzov T.D. Current state of soil fertility in the chernozem zone of Kazakhstan. // Soil Science and Agricultural Chemistry. 2011. # 4. S. 73-80.

4. Dzhalankuzov T.D., Akhmanova A.U. Some features of southern chernozems of Northern Kazakhstan. // Soil Science and Agricultural Chemistry. 2013. №4. S. 21-23.

Name of person(s) collected this description: V.I. Dvurechensky – Director- General of "Kostanai Agricultural Research Institute."

Address: 12, Ubileynaya str., Zarechnoe district, Kostanay province.


Dr. T.D. Dzhalankuzov, Chief Scientific Officer of LLP "Kazakh Research Institute of Soil Science and Agricultural Chemistry na med after U.U.Uspanov.

Address: 75b, Al-Farabi avenue, 050060 Almaty. Tel./Fax: 2-69-47-33.





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