Also known as direct drilling, establishment with zero tillage eliminates all cultivation and involves seed placement directly into previous crop stubble. The technique causes minimal soil disturbance which preserves the soil and its microbial life, allowing for their beneficial services to continue. Zero tillage offers a means of establishing crops in a single pass which significantly reduces soil compaction, saves time and cuts cost.
The method does, however, have its drawbacks. Typically relying on a disc coulter design to open up the ground for seed placement, it is reliant on perfect soil conditions to achieve good germination. Direct drilling fails to provide the seed with friable soil and, as such, is not well suited for heavy land. Equally, the method is unreliable for rape establishment in the spring as the slot created by the disc can be prone to drying out. The tendency of the slot to open up also makes the seed susceptible to rain and chemical drowning. Another risk typically associated with zero tillage is hair pinning, resulting in seed contamination and failed germination.