[Market-farming] No-till in the organic mainstream

Sam White cedarrockcsa at yahoo.com
Mon Jan 29 08:32:09 EST 2007

Thanks for the excerpts, Paul.

I've been seriously considering the Crop Roller idea
from Rodale, but on a smaller scale.  Thinking about
building one that is just 4.5' wide for my Satoh to

Are there no-till transplanters out there for
tomatoes, peppers, and such?


--- TradingPostPaul <tradingpost at riseup.net> wrote:

> It's interesting to see influential sources coming
> around on the subject of
> no-till. Mainstream organics is beginning to admit
> digging, tilling, and
> cultivating degrades soil structure and organic
> matter. This bit is from
> the latest edition, Rodales Illustrated Encyclopedia
> of Organic Gardening,
> p.39:
> 	"Dig only when necessary, keeping it to a minimum.
> Digging is essential to
> break up hard and compacted ground, but regular
> digging increases the rate
> that organic matter - that essential component of a
> goood soil - breaks
> down. Digging can encourage weeds too; every time
> you turn the soil over, a
> new batch of weed seeds is brought to the surface to
> germinate... It is
> quite possible to garden without regular digging."
> And here's Eliot Coleman in his Four-Season Harvest,
> p.38-40. He's the
> highly successful grower of 30 years on the rocky
> coast of Maine, on land
> originally owned by Helen and Scott Nearing. This
> was not in his earlier
> New Organic Gardener.
> 	"But isn't it necessary to turn and fluff the soil 
> to keep it loose and
> friable? Isn't that what raised beds do? .. the
> techniques don't succeed as
> well as advertised. In fact, soil compaction studies
> have shown that
> disturbing the natural soil structure by fluffing
> and turning the soil with
> spade and fork is not beneficial. Undisturbed, the
> natural crumb structure
> that characterizes the work of microorganisms,
> earthworms, and other soil
> inhabitants actually has more air spaces than
> disturbed soil. Applying
> compost to the surface of the soil aids the natural
> process... We haven't
> always acted this wisely. In springs long past, we
> dug and spaded with a
> vengeance. .. we no longer dig the garden. We spread
> compost on the surface
> and mix it in shallowly (an inch or two). Crop
> yields and quality are
> noticeably improved... Once a year we aerate the
> soil in our garden with a
> broadfork. It is used to lift and loosen the soil
> without mixing the
> layers."
> We could ask, so what? If we think outside the box
> for a change, with
> no-till we can cut down on labor as well as cost of
> mechanical tilling
> equipment and fossil fuel. And by cutting time and
> expense we can
> reasonably expect to expand permanent bed growing
> into market-scale growing
> and improve the market grower's bottom line
> considerably. Financially,
> initial bed building is not a barrier but a fixed
> asset that grows in value
> and reduces annual costs and labor in following
> years. Intensive planting
> and season extension grow even more at less cost.
> With experience and
> intelligent planning, market growers can prosper far
> more without machinery
> - and grow more sustainably using far less
> non-renewable resources. 
> paul tradingpost at lobo.net
> -----------------------------------------
> "Population will increase rapidly, more rapidly than
> in former times, and
> 'ere long the most valuable of all arts will be the
> art of deriving a
> comfortable subsistence from the smallest area of
> soil."
> -- Abraham Lincoln
> _______________________________________________
> Market-farming mailing list
> Market-farming at lists.ibiblio.org

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