Instead of plowing the soil and carrying out 4 or 5 field operations under traditional practices, by using no-till I only have to pass 1 time to directly plant the seed into the soil. As you can see on this photo, the plant residue from the previous harvest stays on the ground. As a result, we retain water much better and have reduced laminar soil erosion. This has reduced herbicide run-off into streams. In addition, we improve biodiversity (such as soil insects) and release less carbon dioxide into the air from tilling the soil. We also save on fuel cost and reduce air emission by using less fuel. Finally, I spent less time on my tractor. This means that I have more time for other tasks and this is an important benefit, in particular for small farmers.
The use of cover crops, such as oats on the photo on the right, in addition to no-till farming, presents additional benefits. I have been using cover crop mixtures of oats and legumes in the last few years and this further reduces erosion after heavy rains. Cover crops are a great way to ensure the ground is covered between the maize harvest and soy planting (7 to 8 months) , whereas in the past the ground would be bare and exposed to heavy rains and run-off. Cover crops also help to control weeds between crops - which also means that I can reduce the amount of herbicides I use. It saves me from spraying herbicides at least once a season. Using legumes also reduces the need to apply synthetic fertilizers.