Re: tillage vs. no-tillage in California
Steve Groff (email@example.com)
Fri, 14 Mar 1997 22:56:54 -0500
I too have questioned why California has been slow in adapting
no-tillage practices to their massive agriculture industry. Dr. Ron
Morse, developer of the No-Till Sub-Surface Tiller Transplanter-
Virginia Tech.- was recently in CA and he noticed the same sentiment
although there were a few growers interested in the concept. Dr. Aref
Abdul-Baki, designer of the no-till vegetable system in cover crops,
-USDA Beltsville MD, has generated some cover crop activity in southern
One of the reasons why fertile areas, such as CA and many other places
in the US, have not jumped into this is because they can "afford" some
soil erosion, organic matter depletion, and heavy pesticide use as a
price to pay for top yields. Other countries and places in the US with
poorer quality soil and very little topsoil CANNOT "afford" these losses
or they go hungry! Folks like Carlos Crovetto-from Chile(who I see was
at the conference) have proven that long term no-tillage works. With the
use of cover crops and crop rotation commercial fertilizer and
pesticides can be significantly reduced. This has great appeal where
cash for imputs are scarce and for those of us who want to make a decent
living while working with nature as it does its part in helping to
produce a healthy food product.
In answer to your questions:
1) Should we no-till at all costs?
I think that is to high a goal at this point- but maybe a good one to
aim at. As equipement technology and weed management evolves we will
come closer to that end. The benefits of no-till are real and
documented. It's time that we as sustainable farmers realize that we can
no longer 'turn our backs' on soil erosion
and call ourselves "sustainable".
2) Is a no-tillage, organic system possible?