Don Schriefer was a pioneer in innovative work with tillage systems and was considered one of America’s first “environmental agronomists.” He established six “tillage commandments” as a foundation to guide tillage decisions (published posthumously in Agriculture in Transition, Acres USA, 2000). They seem to still hold true today.


  1. A tillage system must not place limits upon crop yields.
  2. A tillage system must address the problems of spring compaction, with the ultimate goal of eliminating most spring preplant operations.
  3. A tillage system must guarantee a conditioned seedbed that will provide the environment for a good start, rapid root expansion, and uniform emergence and stands every year.
  4. A tillage system must directly or indirectly manage soil aeration, soil water and crop residue in a manner that will nurture soil life and conserve and build the soil system.
  5. Every tillage operation within the tillage system must be done with the purpose of removing one or more yield-limiting factors.
  6. A tillage system must address the potential problem of nutrient stratification and prevent this condition from becoming yield-limiting.