Tag: No Till

Small Axe Farm’s Evolution from Homestead to No-Till Farm

Twenty Years of Small-Scale No-Till Production in Northern Vermont By Holli Cederholm Over the past 20 years, Evan Perkins and Heidi Choate of Small Axe Farm have transformed their quarter-acre homestead garden on a south-facing hilltop in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom into a 1-acre market garden grossing over $230,000 in annual sales. In the beginning, the

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Ridge Tillage at Hackmatack Farm

By Nicolas LindholmPhotos and illustrations by Nicolas Lindholm Ridge tillage as we practice it at Hackmatack Farm is a system of growing vegetable crops in raised ridges formed before planting. Essential to this system is incorporation of winterkilled cover crops and other organic matter into the top surface layer of soil as we form the

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Zone Tillage – A Reduced Tillage Option for Northern Farms

By Jan Goranson and Rob Johanson, Goranson Farm, Dresden, and Jean English, Ph.D., MOFGA Plowing and tilling soil excessively can reduce soil health by exposing soil to so much aeration that organic matter oxidizes excessively; subjecting soil to wind and water erosion; inverting soil layers, thus displacing soil organisms from their ecological niches. Plowing and

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Tillage Effects on Soil Health Parameters

One treatment in our study of the effects of tillage on soil health used a rototiller for cultivation. Another treatment used a broadfork. By Will Brinton Soil tillage is an increasingly important topic of discussion among agriculturists and poses new challenges for organic practices. At a soil health event in Aroostook County in 2014, Ray Archuleta,  conservation

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To Till or Not to Till

A heavy hay mulch, as promoted by Ruth Stout, smothers weeds (until some, such as quackgrass, creep in) but is not suitable for closely set plants or for grain crops. English photo By Will Bonsall No-till is the rage now and for some good reasons. Plowing, spading and rototilling disrupt the natural soil structure and dilute richer

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Permanent Raised Beds

Transplanting into a permanent bed at Foundation Farm. Note the mulch pulled to the shoulder of the bed, to compost in place. Photo courtesy of Foundation Farm Original pasture vegetation remains in the paths between beds at Foundation Farm. Photo courtesy of Foundation Farm Farming with no-till permanent beds can improve soil structure, reduce weeds,

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Tillage Trials

By Ben Hoffman Minimal tillage is essential for healthy, productive soils. In a seven-year study at the University of Western Australia, total organic carbon in the top 4 inches of soil increased by 1.7 tons/acre with no-till and 1 ton under conservation tillage but decreased by 0.2 tons under rotary tillage. (“Tillage, microbial biomass and

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Spring Growth

David Rocque. English photo MOFGA’s 2016 Spring Growth Conference addressed soils, with experts from the state of Maine, from two state universities and from three MOFGA-certified organic farms. David Rocque, Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry soil scientist, defined “soils,” talked about soil-forming factors – especially parent materials – and about identifying soil types

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Recreational Tillage

By Eric Sideman, Ph.D. The rototiller has gotten a bad rap in recent decades. Perhaps it deserves it, perhaps not; in any case it is important to avoid its misuse in order to preserve soil. Temptation to use this power tool is worst in the early spring, when cabin fever or perhaps simply being anxious

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No Till Certified Organic Vegetable Production

An aerial view of Four Winds Farm in Gardiner, New York. Photos courtesy of Four Winds Farm. By Jean English Jay and Polly Armour of Four Winds Farm in Gardiner, N.Y., practice certified organic no-till vegetable production. They grow crops in permanent beds – some in place for 17 years – that are never plowed

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