Tillage, in agriculture and gardening, denotes the different methods of moving the ground, by means of a plough, spade, or other implement, to a certain depth, so as to bring the soil to the surface, and to turn the upper part downwards ; in consequence of which, the earth is less liable to be exhausted by the growth of weeds or useless plants.
The propel time for this operation, varies according to the nature of the soil: thus, in horticulture, hot and dry ground should be tilled, either immediately before or after rain ; but, if the weather be very dry, it ought not to be stirred, unless it be speedily irrigated : in the contrary case, when the earth is strong, moist, and cold, it will be useful to employ the spade, etc. during the hottest weather.
The great advantages arising from tillage, consist, I. In the pulverization of the soil, so that its nature may eventually be changed, and the toughest clay be rendered as light or friable as common earth ; and, 2. In eradicating noxious weeds', by exposing their roots and stalks to the joint action of the air, moisture, and heat, by which they are converted into manure. On these principles, indeed, the new, or horse-hoeing husbandry, chiefly depends; and, though perhaps some agriculturists may have extolled rather too highly, the benefits derived from frequent stirring of the ground, yet it cannot be denied, that such practice greatly contributes to the improvement of the soil, especially when combined with the judicious application of manures.