The Imprinting Foundation



April 2, 2003

R.M. Dixon

Land imprinters currently in use are often too light to achieve a full imprint without pre-tillage of the land. This essay explains why weighting or loading of the imprinter is usually superior to pre-tillage. First, imprinter seeding is characterized as a type of no-till seeding which means that it is a once-over operation without prior tillage.

Second, no-till seeding or planting has a number of advantages over till or conventional seeding including minimal disturbance of the soil. Soil disturbance causes such problems as accelerated wind and water erosion; increased water runoff, flash flooding, and sedimentation; and decreased infiltration, soil moisture, and groundwater recharge. Soil disturbance increases oxidation of organic matter and breakdown of soil structure; thereby, reducing the stability of soil under various erosional forces. Thus soil disturbance can shift the balance from soil gain to soil loss or from sustainable to unsustainable land management.

Third, no-till seeding leaves much of the plant residues or litter on the soil surface where they can absorb raindrop impact to prevent splash erosion and surface sealing thereby maintaining high infiltration rates to recharge the soil water reservoir and the groundwater aquifer. The plant residue feeds soil invertebrate animals such as earthworms and ants that perforate the soil with their burrows, thereby increasing infiltration and aeration. The plant litter also serves as a water vapor barrier to reduce surface evaporation of soil water. It also increases the hydraulic roughness of the soil surface to decrease erosion and increase surface water ponding and infiltration.

Fourth, no-till seeding preserves most of the existing vegetation that is especially important in operations such as interseeding and ecological restoration. Perennial grasses are actually stimulated by the imprinting process.

And fifth, the final and perhaps the most important point, is that no-till seeding, over a period of years, rehydrates the soil and increases its moisture holding capacity to drive biomass productivity in both ecological restoration and sustainable agricultural projects.

The general benefits of no-till seeding listed above are of much greater magnitude for the imprinting method that makes 43,560 closed watersheds per acre to hold soil and water resources in place to, in turn, germinate seeds, establish seedlings, and grow plants. Other no-till methods make continuous furrows (open watersheds) which tend to bleed land resources downslope with each rainfall event.

The standard weight for imprinters is 500 pounds per foot of imprinting roller length plus another 500 pounds of ballast per foot to be added depending on soil hardness-the harder the soil, the more ballast to be added.

Better to weight the imprinter than pre-till the soil to minimize soil disturbance.

Photo: Demonstration imprinter weighted with water and bricks.

Citation: Dixon , R.M. 2003. Imprinter Weighting is Superior to Pre-Tillage


The Imprinting Foundation
1616 E. Lind Road
Tucson, AZ 85719

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