Shallow Ploughing

A study of the physical, chemical and microbiological status of solids cultivated by ploughing and reduced cultivation.


To investigate the implications on the physical, chemical and microbiological status of soils, from machinery and methodologies used in the tillage industry. And to determine the methodology which yields the highest crop productivity with least environmental effects and be a socially acceptable farming system.

Shallow Ploughing or eco-ploughing is a recent innovation believed to be more ecologically friendly, less labour intensive and time consuming than traditional ploughing. Unlike the more traditional methods this method just opens up the top layer of soil for seed sowing.

The project involves cooperation between IT Sligo and Teagasc Research Station Oakpark Carlow. Trail plots will be set up at the Teagasc Research Station Oakpark under the supervision of Dr. Tony Fortune, and will include experimental areas under traditional and shallow ploughing regimes. The field work to include soil physical measurements, ploughing and harvesting machinery and workshop facilities, will be conducted at Oakpark Research station, while chemical, biological and microbiological analysis will be carried out at Sligo Institute of Technology.

The Research Team

Mr. Eugene Brady Principal Researcher Department of Science, IT, Sligo. Mr. Paul Craddock Joint Researcher Department of Science, IT, Sligo. Ms. Jean Gilligan Research Student Department of Science, IT Sligo.

Project Details

Soil physical characteristics such as soil moisture content (gravimetric and volumetric), soil strength (shear vane and cone penetrometer), bulk density (gamma ray densitometer and core sampling) will be determined. Infiltration measurements will be made in situ to measure liquid absorption into the soil and possible benifits in reduced slurry and fertiliser run-off and reduced environmental damage.

The chemical parameters to be examined will include:-

  • Organic Carbon
  • Total Nitrogen
  • Ammonium
  • Nitrate an Nitrite
  • Available Phosphorus and Potassium

Biological parameters to be examined will include:-

  • Earthworm populations
  • Fungal populations
  • Bacterial populations (aerobic and anaerobic) with special emphasis on the nitrogen fixing bacteria
  • Nitrogen fixing bacteria

Crop yield measurements will be taken at appropriate times during the course of the project.