Sunday, August 17, 2014

Modern farming, no-till better for the planet

Turn empty space into food, feed the people of Pacifica.

No-till from prior season,
and growing corn
Drip systems, no-till and growing veggies
"In her book The Soil Will Save Us, writer Kristin Ohlson interviews farmers, soil scientists, and agronomists and concludes that the low-cost, low-tech solution to climate change may be directly underfoot—in healthy soil. Crops have an enormous capability to sequester carbon, she writes, but only if the soil is made to thrive with a mix of no-till farming, cover crops, and livestock grazing.  Amazon excerpt, ....Ohlson introduces the visionaries—scientists, farmers, ranchers, and landscapers who are figuring out in the lab and on the ground how to build healthy soil, which solves myriad problems: drought, erosion, air and water pollution, and food quality, as well as climate change."  Science Friday/Christopher Intaglianta, 8/15/14, "Is healthy soil the low-tech solution to climate change?"  Read article.

"No-till farming" sounds pretty dull at first. The term basically describes ways to grow crops each year without disturbing the soil through tillage or plowing. But it's an important idea. Plowing and tillage are major sources of soil erosion around the world — they were key factors behind the Dust Bowl in the 1930s. What's more, churning up all that soil can release a significant amount of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, helping to warm the planet. So, since the 1980s, more and more American farmers (and policymakers) have started taking no-till farming seriously." Washington Post/Brad Plumer, 11/9/13, "No-till farming is on the rise. That's actually a big deal."  Read article.

Mowing down prior growth, that was fun
No till is a holistic method
The sustainable agriculture cycle
 ....  "The question has been how to make the benefits of no-till accessible to organic farmers and how to free conventional farmers from the expensive and toxic chemicals. Organic no-till is based on sound biological principles and mechanical cover-crop kill, making it possible to reduce and even eliminate tillage. Rodale Institute researchers have been identifying and refining organic no-till or reduced-till techniques that can meet farmers’ needs to improve soil and reduce labor while using tools other than herbicides to manage weeds. In organic systems, one of the best tools to manage weeds is cover crops, and this has proven to be true for organic no-till systems as well. One of the key elements of our organic no-till research is a front-mounted cover-crop roller that knocks down a weed-suppressing mat that can be planted through all in one quick pass."  Rodale Institute, "Our work:  organic no-till overview"  Read article, view no-till crimper video, 3:20 minutes.

Related - Kerr Center, 7/27/12, "Horticulture happenings: three sisters and no-till vegetable beds." .... "This past week we began preparing for another field demonstration: no-till vegetable beds. Inspired by a visit to a no-till vegetable market farm in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, called Foundation Farm, we decided to create a few no-till vegetable beds to add to our field projects. We will be teaching about no-till farming and gardening using these beds, which will be planted to vegetables in the Spring." 

Mother Earth News/Editors/May/June 1984, "No-till farming pros and cons." The agricultural industry is converting to this new and (on the surface, at least) better method."

Note photographs and graphic:  left side from Kerr Center (above), right side upper from AG sense (agricultural network), Sustainable graph from  Western Cape Government Agriculture (Africa). 

Submitted by Bob Hutchinson

Posted by Kathy Meeh

1 comment:

Hutch said...

Many scientists believe that adopting no till farming could reverse climate change.

What does thin mean in Pacifica? We can stop wasting time and recourses on things that make little difference, and concentrate on things like this that will make a major change in total atmospheric carbon.

"UNEP estimates that no-tillage operations in the United States have helped avoid 241 million metric tons of carbon-dioxide since the 1970s. That's equivalent to the annual emissions of about 50 million cars. What's more, the practice could help farmers deal with drought, which may become more prevalent in parts of the world if the planet keeps heating up."