Re: tractor, etc
- Subject: Re: [cg] tractor, etc
- From: Steve Diver email@example.com
- Date: Fri, 03 Feb 2006 12:22:18 -0600
Hi Ken -
Fyi, Dripping Springs in Huntsville, AR, tried no-till beds
for about five years, but found that soil compaction was
increasing and making it difficult to transplant and so forth.
They purchased a tractor and spading machine, and
after they'd seen the results they said they would
have gotten started with full-scale market farming
equipment at the outset, twenty years ago. It makes
land preparation so much faster and efficient during
short windows of time in the wet springtime, it is
suitable to soil incorporation of cover crops, and
you can improve soil organic matter through
proper tillage and humus management.
So they no longer employ no-till beds as Mark Cain
had written about several years ago. But they still employ
a full-scale organic mulching strategy, using over 1,600
bales of straw mulch (or sometimes wheat hay) on
three acres of beds, raising flowers and veggies.
Interestingly, the farm neighbor who sold his tractor
and spader combination with Dripping Springs went
the other direction. Patrice Gros moved into town
at Eureka Springs, AR, and started an intensive market
garden using no-till beds.
So Dripping Springs went from tillage with walking
roto-tillage and hand tools, to no-till, then back to
tillage with tractor-equipment.
Patou's Garden went from tillage to no-till, especially
integrated with top mulch.
It probably says that farmers and gardens use
appropriate methods for appropriate situations.
And secondly that methods change and morph
thru emerging growing seasons as tools and techniques
and concepts unfold.
No-till has worked well for warm-season transplant
crops (nightshades and curcurbits) and for large-seeded
direct drilled crops (corn and beans), but many of the
small-seeded direct drilled crops and delicate transplants
(carrots, parsnips, beets, cole crops, specialty greens) are
better suited to a clean seedbed, or more quickly
transplanted into loose soil.
One market farmer that you may wish to know
about is Doug Walton in Muskogee, OK. For
several years he employed no-till beds, integrated
with cool-season and warm-season cover crops
that were chopped down by a string trimmer
(weed eater) with a plastic flair head attachment.
This procedure was followed by hand raking the
green mulch onto beds, followed by hand transplanting.
Doug is now working full-time on behalf of farmers
markets and sustainable agriculture, so his market
garden is on hold.
Since many gardeners coming into community
gardens are beginners, regular soil preparation
is common. Fortunately, I'm confident that modern
organic gardening techniques can maintain and build
soil health in its many aspects using proper tillage
and humus management. No-till might be offered as
a class to cg gardeners, so people can explore this
method and add it to their toolbox, as a mulch-based
Last week I shared slides and notes at the
TOFGA conference in Texas on the mechanical
roller-crimper method of no-till production,
emphasizing the weed suppressive cover crop
mulch that results, and I expect that several organic
vegetable farmers will be looking into this no-till
method quite seriously in your home state.
P.S. cross-posted to market-farming, fyi
You do not need to till, plow, etc. I have seen a video in which the
Agriculture Extension service agent said, "the worst thing that can happen to
is the use of a roto-tiller."
200,000,000 acres worldwide is in no-till. Over 50% of the small farms in
Argentina are no-till. It works.
Mechanized: 1985-2000, Dr. Morrison, TX research station, proved that
permanent beds, with permanent tracks, increase yields 15%. In 2002, A D
[806-866-5667] decided to go no-till and purchased a no-till planter. He
planted the cotton, harvested the cotton, planted wheat, knocked down the
and he was ready to plant again. His cost went to the basement. Buster
Adair [806-755-2532] has been no-till [cotton] for twenty years. Steve
[cedarmeadowfarm.com] has been no-till [vegetables, corn] for 30 years [I
have seen this operation]. A farmer can not be no-till without a no-till
planter and/or no-till drill. !It works!
Mini-farms: Fukaoka Farm, Japan, has been no-till [rice, small grains,
vegetables] for 70 years. Dripping Springs Gardens, AR, has been no-till
[vegetables, flowers] for 8 years. An Indian farmer has been no-till
for 5 years. A Malawi farmer has been no-till [vegetables] on permanent
beds for 25 years [I visited his farm]. A Honduras farmer has been no-till
[vegetables & fruit] on permanent beds on the contour (730 slope] for 11
years [I visited this farm]. Ruth Stout [USA] had a no-till garden for 30
years and 7,000 people visited her garden. !It works!
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