National Id
Site name
Several testing areas: Tulln (Coordinates given for Tulln, Mistelbach is more in the norteast), Mistelbach, Pyhra
In the framework of a research programme, no tillage field trials have been installed in lower Austria. They showed a significant reduction of runoff, as well as a reduced loss of nutrients. In addition, reduced or no tillage leads to less loss of soil, and an increased content of organic carbon in the soil.
Light or indepth?
RBD code
Data provider
Sabine Tutte, ACTeon
NWRM(s) implemented in the case study
Climate zone
warm temperate dry
Mean rainfall
Mean rainfall unit
Average temperature
Actual Test Site
Average slope range
Vegetation class
Agricultural fields, where corn, wheat, barley and sugar beet are grown.
Monitoring impacts effects
Monitoring location
Edge of Field/Plot
Monitoring parameters
Quantity of soil eroded, runoff (seasonally), composition of the eroded material, runoff (N, herbicides...).
Performance impact estimation method
Performance impact estimation information
Three different testing fields: direct comparison of no tillage, reduced tillage and conventional tillage.
Application scale
Field Scale
Installation date
Performance timescale
5 - 10 years
Area (ha)
Size unit
Design capacity description
Cannot be said in general.
Basis of design
Testing fields for different soil treating techniques (no tillage, reduced tillage and conventional tillage).
Green bridge of volunteer cereals is able to transfer pathogens, with less soil treatment there is a higher risk that there is a higher amount of mykotoxins.
Favourable preconditions
medium-heavy soils, few weeds
Crop rotation
1.corn- winter wheat
2. corn-winter wheat- sugar beet- summer barley
3. sunflower-winter wheat
Contractural arrangements
Design contractual arrangement
Arrangement type Responsibility Role Comments Name
Design consultation activity
Activity stage Key issues Name Comments
alternative tillage machines were demonstrated to farmers, sensibilisation for erosion problems
Tillage demonstration events
Design land use change
Land use change type
Design authority
Authority type Role Responsibility Name Comments
Lower Austrian State Government
Regulatory frame work as the law on soil protection and the environmental programme ÖPUL (subsidies)
Initiation of the measure
local communities
Supprot research on alternative soil treatment techniques since less erosion means less maintenance costs for drainage and sewage water systems
local farmers
Soil is their most valuable good. Protection of soil means cost savings for fertilizers and constant yield
Key lessons
Significant reduction of runoff, loss of nutrients, soil and pesticides is possible.
Mulch and direct seeding practices are fully developped and work well in practice.
The economic benefits must not ignore erosion, nutrient and pesticide movement.
Volunteer plants can be a bridge for plant diseases.
Cover crops should be sown immediately after harvesting for building up a green manure.
Cost reduction is possible.
Financing mechanism
Financing mechanism information
There is support on research by the state of Lower Austria. Farmers get subsidies for soil protection measures, such as constant green cover and reduced tillage by the federal government of Austria
Financing difficulties
Success factor(s)
Success factor type Success factor role Comments
Attitude of decision makers
main factor

Support and encouragement for soil protecting agriculture.

Attitude of the public
main factor

Support of innovative techniques. Less erosion means less sediments in villages and drainage systems, and hence less costs for cleaning.

Attitude of relevant stakeholders
main factor

Soil is their most valuable good. As a consequence, there is an interest to conserve soil and limit erosion.

Financing type Comments
Sub-national funds
The research programme is financed by the state government of lower Austria.
National funds
Subsidies are financed by the federal government of Austria.
Barrier type Barrier role Comments
secondary barrier
Not all crops show an increased yield with less soil treatment, such as sugar beet.
secondary barrier
Volunteer crops can act as a bridge for pathogens.
main barrier
Reduced tillage cannot be used on heavy soils
Driver type Driver role Comments
Legal obligations
main driver
The law of soil protection of Lower Austria encourages reduced tillage practices.
Organisation committed to it
main driver
They are constantly searching for new soil treatment techniques and try to introduce them in agricultural practice.
Availability of subsidies
main driver
Austrian Environmental Programme: Farmers receive the more subsidies the longer they have a green cover on the field. Moreover, mulchseeding and CO2 storage in soil are awarded as maximum soil protection measures.
Financing share
Financing share type Share Comments
Policy description
Reducing tillage in order to decrease erosion, loss of nutrients and pesticides and increase the amount of humus.
Part of wider plan
Policy target
Target purpose
Runoff control
Erosion Control
Improved Biodiversity
Policy pressure
Pressure directive Relevant pressure
Policy area
Policy area type Policy area focus Name Comments
Policy impact
Impact directive Relevant impact
Policy wider plan
Wider plan type Wider plan focus Name Comments
Policy requirement directive
Requirement directive Specification
Direct benefits
Direct benefits information
Biedermann calculated for corn possible savings of 416 €/ha, which means 43€/t. By reducing tillage, a farm can save up to 10 000 €. When tillage is completely abandoned, savings up to 24 000 € are possible. Reasons for this are: less working hours (5 €/t wheat for salary instead of 14), less fuel consumption (40 l/ha instead of 96), less fixed machine costs. The additional consumption of herbicides and fertilizers is easily compensated and included in the calculations.
Costs investment
Costs investment information
Biedermann made its economical monitoring for 100 ha agricultural holding with different crops: winter wheat, winter barley, winter canola, corn, sugar beet and cover plants. He calculated the "cost for doing work" that means: salary (12 €/h), variable costs for machines (fuel, maintenance), fixed cost for machines (interest, depletion, assurance) and means of production (fertilizer, herbicides). When tillage is reduced the farmer should consider selling some of his tractors and increase the operating grade of his machines. The seeding machine is very expensive and in the same time a key element. The farmer should consider to buy it either used, to outsource the seeding or to use it in cooperation with other farmers. As an example, the costs are given here for direct seeding of wheat with a corn yield of 6t/ha.
Costs capital
Costs capital information
Salary of the farmer
Costs land acquisition information
Normally no land needs to be purchased
Costs operation maintenance
Costs operation maintenance
In his calculations, Biedermann considered an additional consumption of herbicides (18 € per ha) and fertilizers (15 kg N/ha í  1,05 €/kg) for direct seeding.
Costs operational
Costs operational information
Variable machine costs
Costs maintenance
Costs maintenance information
Means of production (including the additional consumption of herbicides and fertilizers).
Costs total
Costs total information
These are the "costs for doing work". With direct seeding the farmer saves 37 €/t compared to conventional tillage. When mulchseeding is done in an cooperation savings are 19 €/t and mulchseeding with own machines leads to an saving of 10€/t.
Ecosystem improved biodiversity
Information on Ecosystem improved biodiversity
When no tillage is applied, the number of earthworms is multiplied by 5. The symbiosis between roots and rhizobiaceae is improved as well. Moreover, the plant roots are able to create a more complex horizontal and vertical network.
Ecosystem provisioning services
Information on Ecosystem provisioning services
In the first years when reduced tillage measures are applied, there can be less yield of crops on the fields. However, this is often balanced since there are less expenses for fuel, and less working time needed.
Ecosystem impact climate regulation
Impact on GHGs (net emissions and storage) including soil carbon
Information on Ecosystem impact climate regulation
Increase of soil carbon, less CO2 emissions.
Ecosystem impact Green House Gas (GHG) soil carbon
Information on Ecosystem impact GHG soil carbon
CO2 emission from soil
Information on increased water storage
Depending on the testing site, 16% more in Mistelbach, 56% more in Pixendorf and 95% more in Tulln (close to Pixendorf).
Ecosystem impact, reduced energy use
Information on Ecosystem impact reduced energy use
Ecosystem impact other GHG
Information on Ecosystem impact other GHG
More CH4 uptake
Ecosys impact increased permanent biomas
Information on Ecosystem impact increased permanent biomass
More earthworms
Ecosystem erosion control
Water quality overall improvements
Positive impact-WQ improvement
Ecosystem erosion control impact
Information on Water quality overall improvements
When tillage is reduced or completely abandoned, the loss of nitrogen and sprayed herbicides decreases.
Information on Ecosystem erosion control impact
Per ha and year
Water quality Improvements Nitrogen (N)
Wq Improvements n unit
% reduction pf pollutant
Soil quality overall soil improvements
Positive impact-SQ improvement
Information on Soil quality overall soil improvements
Due to reduced / no tillage, there is less soil loss, more organic carbon in the soil, less CO2 emission and more CH4 uptake in the soil.
Soil quality, overall soil pollution
Soil quality, overall soil pollution unit
% Reduction
Information on Soil quality overall soil pollution
CO2 emission
Information on Soil quality overall soil carbon
32 % more CH4 uptake in the soil.
Soil quality, overall soil nutrients
Soil quality, overall soil nutrients, unit
% Reduction
Information on Soil quality overall soil nutrients
Soil loss
Soil quality, overall soil physical properties
Soil quality, overall soil physical properties, unit
% Reduction
Information on Soil quality, overall soil physical properties
Loss of organic carbon