[Market-farming] Tillage is tillage

Brigette Leach avalonfarmshomegrown at earthlink.net
Mon Feb 5 14:10:36 EST 2007


Steve,
While it has been interesting to follow the thread regarding tillage, I 
must take issue with statements that you have made in this particular 
post. Having practiced minimum tillage for more than twenty years, 
successfully and on a large scale (more than 1000 acres) we have first 
hand experience, not theory nor merely opinion, to base our position upon.

Your posted statement: Conventional no till has been around awhile and 
is touted as a superior way of preventing erosion (and saving the 
planet, even.) The chemical farmers just kill cover crops and sod with 
herbicides and plant directly into the dead stubble with heavy-duty 
planters.

First, we have never, repeat never, sprayed an herbicide to kill a cover 
crop. Crop residue is left in place, in our case either, wheat stubble, 
or corn or soybean residue. No additional trip across the field to plant 
a cover crop. No additional trip across the field to spray in order to 
kill a cover crop, as you claim. No additional trip across for tillage. 
We are particularly mindful of soil compaction issues and each 
additional pass across a field, regardless of the reason for it, is of 
concern. Organic growers are not the only ones using ridge-till to deal 
with soil temperature, conventional growers have used that practice for 
decades.

Secondly, in all of my years of involvement with soil conservation and 
water protection efforts, I have never, repeat never, heard anyone claim 
that no-til or minimum tillage was going to save the planet. What a 
derogatory statement to make toward producers and technicians who are 
sincerely attempting to develop better practices. There is more than 
enough scientific evidence available to conclude that minimum tillage 
practices do indeed prevent soil movement, if one is of the mindset to 
look for it. Those of us who farm in Michigan are particularly mindful 
of keeping nutrients in the soil and accessible to the crop being grown 
rather than in our water.

Thirdly, this attitude that all chemical farmers are just doing 
everything possible to rape the land and fowl the water are absurd. I 
know, quite literally, thousands of producers coast to coast, who employ 
practices from conventional to sustainable/organic. None of them are 
going out of their way to destroy anything. Simply doing the best they 
can with the information they have at the time. The notion that each of 
them is doing, or should do, everything the same way ignores not only 
variations in soils, but crops and micro-climates as well.

Discussions are desirable, and I appreciate posts that are indeed 
conversations, seeking to share real knowledge.

Brigette
Avalon Farms Homegrown
www.avalonfarmshomgrown.com



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