[Market-farming] Tillage is tillage

Home Grown Kansas! hgkansas at sbcglobal.net
Sun Feb 4 11:02:35 EST 2007


Right on Steve.

STEVE GILMAN <stevegilman at verizon.net> wrote:      On Feb 2, 2007, at 10:34 PM, market-farming-request at lists.ibiblio.org wrote:

    Message: 9
  Date: Fri, 02 Feb 2007 20:33:13 -0700
  From: "Tradingpost" <tradingpost at lobo.net>
  Subject: Re: [Market-farming] Tillage is tillage
  To: market-farming at lists.ibiblio.org
  Message-ID: <200702022033130025.054436F1 at mail.lobo.net>
  Content-Type: text/plain; charset="ISO-8859-1"
  

  

  Maybe you could explain that last line, since it seems to contradict what
  you say about protecting soil structure and biology: 
    Of course, to reap these benefits you're going to need to use some  
  forms of tillage and cultivation...
  

  I just don't see the need for it. Why the cost and labor to till and
  cultivate? 
  

  paul tradingpost at lobo.net


  I suggest you take it from the top and reread the post -- the last line IS well explained and not at all contradictory. 
  

  To wit:
  1. Farming and gardening systems that RELY on herbicides and/or extensive tillage and cultivation severely impact soil fertility and exacerbate erosion by oxidizing organic matter, wiping out microorganisms and destroying soil aggregation -- negatively affecting the ag system's sustainability. (Midwest soils that were some 20" deep in the 1800's, now average under 4" -- gone to global dust and silt in rivers and deltas.)
  

  2. Using sod, cover crops, green manures, etc. in rotations are necessary to protect soil from erosion and build soil fertility. 
  

  3. If you're going to farm or garden ecologically on any scale that precludes heavy mulching, however, some degree of tillage/cultivation is necessary to open the sod and reduce weed competition to produce crops AND to build soil organic matter. 
  

  4. And further, heavy mulches/no-till doesn't work in colder climates because they keep the soil too cold to plant.
  

  Tillage/cultivation is not "bad" per se -- it's a GOOD way to incorporate cover crops and build soil fertility, for example.  Overuse of tillage, or using methods featuring a constantly open soil (a la herbicides) is a losing proposition, however.
  

  Steve
  

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