new generation cropping systems (fwd)
vic at daena.eepo.com.au
Fri Apr 3 09:04:05 EST 1998
To: Recipients of CHRM-GENERAL <chrm-general at igc.apc.org>
From: "Preston Sullivan" <prestons at ncatark.uark.edu>
I watched a video last night from New Generation Cropping
Systems on no-till vegetables. Steve Groff of Ceadar Meadow
Farms, in Holtwood, PA is featured along with several forward
thinking researchers and other farmers. Cedar Meadow is
115 acres of vegetable crops, grain crops, and alfalfa. Steve
started looking for alternatives to the black plastic, bare ground,
tillage system so common to vegetable production due to high
cost and erosion inherent in this system. Working with Dr.
Ilbake (sp?) at the Beltsville MD Experiment station and
Dr. Ron Morse at Virginia Tech, he adapted a no-till
vegetable system using cover crops and crop rotations to their
farm. They fall-plant a mixture of rye, hairy vetch, and crimson
clover to produce a heavy amount of nitrogen-providing mulch
the following season, into which the vegetables will be
no-till planted. The three components of the mixture have different
rooting depths (biodiversity) which helps with nutrient cycling.
At the right time in the spring the cover crop is rolled with a
modified corn-stalk chopper. The chopper looks like two
sets of chopper rollers off the front of a finishing harrow mounted
in tandom. The chopper lays the cover crop flat on the ground
and crimps it which also kills it. Next the no-till vegetable
transplanter is pulled over the field, establishing the vegetable
crop of tomatoes, or pumpkins. They have also direct seeded
other crops such as sweet corn and snap beans.
The resultant cover-crop mulch is so thick that weeds are virtually
a non-problem. The Colorado potato beetles, usually rampant
on the tomatoes, have not reached economic thresholds under
the no-till system. Side by side black-plastic plots, grown
in the same field, did reach economic thresholds and did require
spraying. The mulch harbors beneficial insects that take out
the CPB. Early blight in the no-till tomatoes is also greatly
reduced. In side by side plots, the black plastic tomatoes required
12 sprays while the no-till tomatoes required 5 sprays for
early blight. Crop quality is high and the vegetables have no soil
on them due to the mulch. Harvest can proceed in any weather
because you never get muddy feet or bog up in the mud because
of the mulch. Irrigation costs are reduced because of higher
soil moisture retention under the mulch. No cultivation of
weeds or tillage operations are necessary thus freeing a lot
of time to spend on management decision making. Soil erosion
is eliminated and higher living organisms are present in the no-till
because the field is not disrupted by periodic tillage. Overall
herbicide, fungicide, and insecticide use is drastically reduced and
in some cases eliminated all together.
The closing sentence of the video was: "We need to consider the
long-term effects of our management decisions that we make
today and how they will impact future generations"
Does this sound familiar?
At any rate, I was highly impressed by this video and recommend
it to anyone interested in cropping or vegetable production.
It costs $29.95 + $3 shipping. Sent to Cedar Meadow Farm
679 Hilldale Road, Holtwood, PA, 17532 or call: 717-284-5152
Steve Groff has a web page at: http://www2.cedarmeadowfarm.
com/cedarmeadow/ which provides more details.
More information about the permaculture