Is organic no-till a viable possibility in the near future
for conventional row crops?
Thanks for the question and the interest in the whole concept
of organic no-till. By conventional row crops, I take it to
mean corn and soybeans or crops we grow like that. If that
is your question, then I can answer by saying, yes. We have
made great improvements in the organic no-till system over
the past five years. The improvements have come in the form
of better equipment to manage cover crops and to plant into
them to establish the crop and suppress the weeds.
We are also working across the country to address the issues
of cover crop selection and the related cultural practices
to get the most out of them in terms of the system. Within
a few months, a cover crop roller should be on the market.
This is the tool we designed at The Rodale Institute and have
written about in New Farm (see the No-Till
+ Page for more on the roller and no-till research). With
this tool and some planter modifications, the system has been
shown to have great success.
We are in the process of field testing the equipment in seven
regions of the country to gain experience with different cover
crops, different soils, different climates, and different
farmers/managers. Within two years we expect to have that
data to better support individuals like yourself to move in
this direction. Please feel free to contact me with specific
questions on our system or on how it might fit into your farming
Have some questions to Ask Jeff? E-mail
him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.