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Re: Re: tilling

  • Subject: Re: [cg] Re: tilling
  • From: "ROBERT HARTMAN" rhartman2003@msn.com
  • Date: Wed, 23 Aug 2006 14:52:05 -0700

Hi Ken,

I think we've corresponded about this before.

My sentiments are totally with you. I'm much prefer to avoid tillage for all the reasons you cite!

However, while you claim that there is extensive documentation about orgainic no-till, I can't find it and none of the organic farmers I've met have had any success with it. What they all say is that weed competiton (e.g., competiton from species already present) virtually eliminates their yields.

Conceptually, I still don't understand how a person can expect to plant an alluvial-fan grower into a grassy field and get any sort of marketable harvest, even with irrigation. Increasing moisture will only increase the growth of the grasses and their friends.

On the other hand, if the moisture content is right for the fan-grower but exceeds the tolerance of the grasses and their friends, the soil is liable to go anaerobic because of the tight, fibrous root structure of the grasses. The ecology of a grassland is different that that of most field crops. Left to their own devices, it seems obvious that the grasses and their friends will eat the field-crops' lunch on their own home "turf." (I know. Couldn't reisst!)

Are _you_ growing crops with organic no-till? Can you give the names of farmers who are? Can you cite _specific_ references on the Web or elsewhere of people who are and the _specific_ techniques hey use to cope with competition from native species?

Believe me, I hate like hell recommending that people till. I understand the damage it does.
-epecially repeated tilling with moldboard plows. Not only do they cook out the organic matter in the top layer, but they create clay plow pans underneath. What a great way to ruin the soil in short order!

However, deploring the damange doesn't alter the need to create appropriate tilth for the crops that a farmer or gardener needs/wants to grow.

So please explain how to manage weeds and create physical barriers to insect pests like flea beetles in a no-till setting, and I'll start advocating those practices instead. You have no idea how much I want to switch.

I can back up my claim that rotation works to help sustain yields. You're claiming that no-till does even better. In theory, I think you could be right if you can get the crops to grow well in the first place. In practice, I have yet to see it done. Can you please back up your claim with actual references so that people can start succeeding with it?

Please, Ken, tell us more!

All the best,

Robert Hartman


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