> Hi, all!
> It has seemed to me that the sustainable ag community, such as it is, has
> been unable to deal with no-till as a viable alternative. We like integrated
> pest and weed management which seek to reduce pesticide use yet seem to be
> biased against no-till as it appears to favor increased chemical use. Yet,
> as Steve pointed out, there must be ways that our ideals can be achieved
> with prudent use of this technology and ultimately, no-till should reduce
> chemical use.
> In western Nebraska, water is the limiting nutrient and wind erosion is a
> constant problem, with subsequent removal of soil organic matter and
> nutrients. No-till seems to have some promise, yet it cannot be implemented
> without a diversified cropping system to help get rid of weeds. In fact,
> no-till does not work in continuous or fallowed wheat production which is
> the norm in this country. It requires intelligent selection of crop
> sequences that work together to reduce weed populations.
The secret to reducing pesticides in no-till is cover crops, crop rotation,
long-term no-tillage, and to do your own spraying. I've seen cover crop trials
that still gave weed control effects 2 years later. I've considered growing
soybeans w/o herbicides by growing a good stand of rye, rolling it a couple
times with the rolling stalk chopper and no-tilling them. Organic $22 food grade
beans IS attractive! Right now Rodale Institute has a food grade bean trial on
our farm so I'm getting a good look at the varieties. I used very little
herbicide in the trail plot and the beans are perfectly clean -which I don't
need to have. Of course we all know the benefits of crop rotation. Long term
no-tillage helps in reducing the "planting" of seeds with tillage. I've found
my worst weed problems are when I'm weaning a field off tillage. Since I do my
own spraying I treat each field with it's own perscription. Some areas don't
need any pesticides and I shut the sprayer off. I call this "low tech" precision
> I am very interested in seeing a rational discussion on "to till or not to
> till" brought to the sustainable ag table. Of course, even in no-till
> systems, there may be times when tillage is needed--truth is seldom found in
> either extreme but somewhere in the middle.
Amen! I'm not setting out to convert the whole world to no-till either. Just
like organic, it's all in "art and technique".
-- "New Generation Cropping Systems": the cutting edge of sustainable agriculture http://www.cedarmeadowfarm.com Steve Groff Cedar Meadow Farm 679 Hilldale Rd Holtwood PA 17532 USA Ph. 717-284-5152
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