The farm I live on is a minimal tillage farm, absolutely no ploughing is done.
Click to enlarge.
Above is the piece of equipment that does the tilling, the circular blade in front rips the soil, (as you can see by it's size not very deeply).
All planting, reaping and bailing is done by contractors, this equipment is extremely expensive and it would not be logical for a farmer to buy his own and it only gets use a few times a year. Contractors make full use of the equipment by working all over the country planting and reaping different crops, in different season, all through the year.
The state of the art tractor that pulls the tilling equipment, air condition, stereo radio system, semi automatic gear change, power steering, etc., etc.. (Even sissy's can be farmers now a days). The contractors name, "Clan Muir Contracting", is written on the tractors side window. The owner of the business is Hamish Muir, the Scots are very well represented in SA. I'd better take back that remark about sissy's, Hamish, a big brawny South African Scot, is definitely no sissy.
Straight as a dye. Every row has to be perfectly spaced as the planter has to place the seed right in the very narrow slit ripped by the tiller. The tiller rips six rows at a time, each group of six has to be placed exactly the same distance from the last six, the reason for this is that the planter only plants four rows at a time. How is this achieved? GPS of course, the tractor driver connects to the GPS satellite, which plots each row exactly. Apart from starting the tractor, putting it in gear the drivers work is done, all the tilling and planting is done on auto pilot, the driver sits back and relaxes.
This field has already been planted with maize, the remains of last seasons maize crop and this winters wheat stubble, can still be seen lying on the surface. With minimum tillage all the humus producing plant remains, remain on the surface where it protects the soil and breaks down in a natural way. With traditional ploughing the soil is turned over which exposes the soil microbes to the suns UV rays, destroying them.
A field of soya beans planted with minimum tillage.