[permaculture] Organic no-till for dry-land farming?

Martin Naylor martinwnaylor at yahoo.com.au
Sat Jun 2 18:45:36 EDT 2007

Water mellons started in the desert 

Dieter Brand <diebrand at yahoo.com> wrote:

I’m new to the list. I have been receiving your messages
for a while, but haven’t been able to participate in the 
discussions since I live in a remote region of Portugal 
without land line and without regular Internet access.

Inspired by the works of Masanobu Fukuoka and others,
I converted to no-till farming/gardening 3 years ago
after 7 years of organic gardening. There are plenty of
options for the winter, when we get enough rain, and also
for that part of the garden which I can irrigate during the 
summer. However, since we don’t get any rain at all 
during the summer months there isn’t enough water for 
irrigating the fields.

There are models for dry-land farming in semi-arid regions
like ours; however, these models involve ploughing the soil
so as to create a powder fine dirt mulch which prevents the 
humidity in the layer below from evaporating. I haven’t, so
far, come across any example of no-till farming for dry lands.

The key requirement for organic no-till to be successful is 
continued coverage by cover crops or cash crops during the 
entire growing season so as to control weeds. Any interruption
in the growing schedule means that the weeds will come back 
and that one has to start from zero. Thus, if I can’t find a 
solution for the summer period, it looks like the whole 
endeavour is bound to fail.

I would appreciate any ideas regarding methods and types
of crops for semi-arid regions that don’t require ploughing.
Failing this, I at least hope to get your opinion regarding 
the feasibility of my project.

Dieter Brand

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