[Market-farming] How to Plow

David Guthrie dguthrie at egyptian.net
Wed Oct 15 15:06:15 EDT 2008

hey paul:

you ever get a tractor?

dave guthrie
  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: PBock at avox.zodiac.com 
  To: market-farming at lists.ibiblio.org 
  Sent: Wednesday, October 15, 2008 1:07 PM
  Subject: Re: [Market-farming] How to Plow

  Just for good measure I should put in a plug for the book "Ploughman's Folly".  "Journey to forever" has a digitized copy that you can read for free. http://journeytoforever.org/farm_library/folly/follyToC.html 
  Even if you don't believe that you can eliminate plowing, this book at least asks the question of why do you need to plow?   

  A low mow, then a disking to open it up a bit, then a fall cover crop like winter-rye.  In the spring / early summer go over it with a cover crop roller to crimp the rye stems.  You can find cover crop roller plans and info at newfarm's website.   http://www.rodaleinstitute.org/no-till_revolution  This produces a great thick mulch for weed suppression.  The Rodale guys on the newfarm site pull a no-till planter with a front mounted roller-crimper, so they roller-crimp and plant in one pass.  The crimping process cause the plant to die by dehydration and prevents regrowth as could result from a mowing.  The cool part of this cover crop mulching system is that you get 100% cover crop kill without herbicides and then the resulting mulch keeps you from needing herbicides to handle weeds.  The mulch breaks down over the season and gives you organic matter for your soil.  The mulch also allows more water (rain) to penetrate your soil because it keeps the raindrops from crusting over your soil surface.   

  Also, it turns out that mycorrhizal fungi are attracted to plants like Winter-rye.  INVAM's website has more information about how to propagate mycorrhizal fungi through spore production. http://invam.caf.wvu.edu/ The cool part is that a winter rye cover crop will allow any existing native mycorrhizal populations to flourish.  The death of the cover crop will cause massive spoartion (fungi seed production), just at the time your main crop is germinating.  Mycorrhizal's will help the most in poor soils.  They develop less in soils with higher organic matter, because the host plant depends on them less for nutrition.   

  The newfarm site has some emerging info about mycorrhizal fungi's ability to increase crop growth.  The fungi create a symbiotic relationship with a host plant.  They effectively extend the root surface area a 100 fold.  This lets the palnt "access" more soil nutrients.  The plant feeds the fungus simple sugars in return.       

  Paul Bock 
  Stone Gully 

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