[Market-farming] Tillage is tillage

Tradingpost tradingpost at lobo.net
Sun Feb 4 23:36:51 EST 2007


You point out the damage from excessive or overuse of tillage, yet you say
it's necessary to open the sod and reduce weed competition to produce crops
AND to build soil organic matter. It would be helpful to see where you draw
the line on what's excessive or overuse of tillage. Why we'd be trying to
grow by destroying sod is unexplained. A large part of this country's
non-sod agricultural land is unused and theoretically available for
cropping. How are weeds suppressed by tilling and bringing another crop of
weed seeds to the surface? And how does the tillage build soil organic
matter? If extensive tillage and cultivation severely impact soil fertility
and exacerbate erosion by oxidizing organic matter, wiping out
microorganisms and destroying soil aggregation, then how does less tillage
do exactly the reverse - build up soil organic matter? This is an apparent
contradiction and I'm legitimately asking for clarification. Surely there's
hard evidence to resolve this. 

paul tradingpost at lobo.net

*********** REPLY SEPARATOR  ***********

On 2/4/2007 at 8:02 AM Home Grown Kansas! wrote:

>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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