Michigan State University Germinated soybeans in no-till rye
Roller / crimper research

The Benefits of Adopting a No-Till Organic Farming System

planting with no-till drillOne of the most pressing issues among farmers working in organic production is what to do about weed control. Current conventional practices require many organic farmers to till their fields up to ten times per growing season to manage weeds. This leads to higher labor and fuel costs as well as unnecessary wear and tear on their equipment and fields. While there are many benefits to adopting a no-till organic farming system, the most obvious benefit to farmers is a reduction in tillage.

A benefit of using a front-mounted roller/crimper (R/C) is that you can roll and crimp the covers and plant at the same time, thus reducing field operations to a single pass. The reduction in tillage enhances the preservation of a healthier soil quality.

Increased tillage operations can contribute to the depletion of a healthy soil structure by causing soil clumps or powder to develop on the surface. Tillage also reduces earthworm populations that keep the soil in good shape. Less time spent operating heavy machinery in the field means less soil compaction and better soil filtration. No-till can result in carbon sequestration in your soils. Using the cover crops R/C system actually adds carbon to the soil through the decomposition of the covers on the surface over time.

The rolled cover crops also aid in the enhancement of soil moisture. The mat of plant material prevents soil moisture from evaporating and also provides protection from soil erosion. Because the cover crop mat shades out weeds, the farmer does not need to use herbicides.

Research conducted at KBS in 2004 suggests that using the R/C system for weed control in no-till organic soybeans can produce good yields with excellent weed control.

 

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