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Hello. Man, we have such a wealth of stories. We're trying to spread them out in digestible chunks, but you'll still have a lot to choose from this week, next week and into the forseable future.

At the top of the list this week is the story of how are farm manager, Jeff Moyer, collaborated with our plain Mennonite next farm neighbor to design and build a front mounted cover crop roller that takes us a big step closer to making no-till organic feasible. The roller kills and plants in one smooth pass, providing an effective weed-suppressing mat that gives corn and soybeans the time they need to establish themselves. Lots of great pictures and plenty of helpful detail. Check it out!

Tools like this no-till roller can revolutionize no-till and conservation tillage systems even for conventional farmers. Perhaps, then, we won't have to put up with ludicrous arguments by herbicide companies that atrazine is a critical conservation and erosion control tool in a conservation tillage system. After all, against what costs to human health and soil health do we measure any contributions to soil conservation made by massive atrazine inputs? Want to read a news article on on this topic that will make your blood boil? Check out our news story on the Natural Resources Defense Council's lawsuit demanding that the White House release documents detailing meetings with pesticide industry reps.

In the next several weeks, you can look forward to other exceptional stories about the organic no-till revolution, including a piece by Mark Schonbeck that lays out in great detail what Virginia Tech professor Ron Morse has learned over the past 24 years about no-till cover crop systems for organic vegetable production. It's definitely a don't miss piece.

The conference season is upon us! This week you'll find the first in a three-part series by Don Lotter on the highlights of the Washington Tilth Producers annual conference earlier this month.

--Chris Hill, Executive Editor

Don't forget to check out our latest Organic Price Index.


The Roller King

Rare breed turkeys make
a comeback
: see below for more.


Fresh today from The New Farm®


Capital purchases: An opportunity to think
more deeply about where your farm is heading

It makes no sense to invest new dollars into equipment designed for old systems, says Jeff. He also offers a few thoughts on mixing nurse crops with your cover crops.

BONUS! Conversations with readers

Jeff has had quite a few email conversations with readers in recent months, and we think lots of them are instructive … and even entertaining. They give you a fly-on-the-wall view as two farmers grapple with problems and decisions—from out-of-control vetch to which piece of haying equipment to buy.


One farm to another: Below nurse crop of oats interseeded with vetch cover crop


Conservation Security Program: The best disaster insurance tax money can buy

Two midwest farmers argue that funding the CSP will encourage the kind of healthy, diversified farming that commodity supports put the axe to.


Rare breed turkeys



Evaluating the 2003 season ... and harvesting lessons for 2004 and beyond

This year: disastrous small grains, decent soybeans and corn, and a near miss with the cabbage crop. Into the future: exploring how to get European small grain yields, often double those of the U.S.; figuring out what contributes to corn lodging, and what variables effect soybean yields from field to field.


Letter from New York


Shumei Natural Agriculture:
Farming to create heaven on earth
Kyushu Island: Yasuo Tarumi

After decades as a conventional farmer, Yasuo Tarumi put away the pesticides and studied nature

Observation by the hour and by the day -- on his knees in the field and from his favorite farm lookout -- helped the experienced farmer find, in nature, the answers he needs to manage his 30 acres successfully.

Yasuo Tarumi



Microbes: THE hot topic at the Washington Tilth Producers’ annual conference

Our researcher and reporter, Don Lotter, wandered the halls and seminar rooms of the conference, gathering details on everything from a really inexpensive compost tea brewer to the growing of fungi that first attract, then later kill insect pests.


Talking Shop




DR. Don Research Update

Vetiver grass reigns supreme in erosion control, trapping bugs

This tropical and sub-tropical grass' ability to stabilize eroded slopes, reclaim toxic soils, resist drought, and sequester nutrients from sewage ponds is nothing short of amazing


Research Update




Planning for next season

Looking back, looking ahead … and PLUG-ging along. 5 tips on planning for next season, plus the ins and outs of buying and using plugs.

  Cut flowers

A beginner's guide to farming

The season’s over, or nearly so: Here’s
what paid, what didn’t

The wisdom four Pennsylvania farm families salvaged from another tough season.


Beginning farmers

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