Cultivars and some cultivar mixtures of spring barley were grown under inversion and non-inversion tillage conditions for three or four years and assessed for disease and yield. In general, the larger yielding cultivars under inversion tillage conditions gave smaller yields under non-inversion tillage, whereas low yielding older cultivars showed relatively smaller reductions in yield under non-inversion tillage. A few cultivars showed preferential yield performance for either inversion or non-inversion tillage irrespective of their overall yield performance. There was no pedigree or breeding programme link between these cultivars and no above-ground morphological trait observed was associated with tillage adaptation. It is likely that root-associated traits are responsible for tillage adaptation. Root hairs may contribute to inversion tillage adaptation as a root hair absence mutant was associated with non-inversion adaptation. There was no overall cultivar or tillage interaction with rhynchosporium symptoms but a differential tillage interaction may occur in individual years.