Trying high-residue no-till on a budget

Update 4/1/15: Since writing this post originally, I have received feedback from a few people that this system has been hard to implement effectively. It takes a lot of weight to crimp the cover crops, there can be a good amount of re-growth, and in shaped beds, the angle iron fails to make contact with the whole bed. I’ve decided to leave the post up here to continue to promote discussion on small-scale systems for high-residue cover crops. Got experience (good or bad) with small-scale roller-crimpers? This angle-iron tool or BCS attachments? Please get in touch and add to this conversation. Continue reading

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Maine is the first state to pay tribute to soils during the International Year of Soils

Amy Jones of the Maine Association of Professional Soil Scientists, me, and Joan Welsh, the sponsor of this resolution with our I heart soil stickers at the State House!

Amy Jones of the Maine Association of Professional Soil Scientists, me, and Joan Welsh, the sponsor of this resolution with our I heart soil stickers at the State House!

The Maine legislature is the first in the nation to pay tribute to soils during the historic United Nations International Year of Soils. The soil beneath our feet is often overlooked, but the adoption of the Joint Resolution Recognizing the Importance of Soils to Maine’s Future Prosperity (read full text of HP-584), sheds light on all the ways soils impact our lives. Continue reading

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The website will go on, but this project is ending…

When Ray and I were discussing what the domain name for this website should be, he came up with notillveggies.org (or .com– we got both, actually). I’m a little weird and the word “veggies” bugs me because I prefer to call them “vegetables,” but it was catchy, so we went with it. The website was supposed to be a platform for disseminating research results from our SARE-funded project “No-till, no-herbicide planting of spring vegetables using low-residue wintkerilled cover crops.” That was too long for a url (still available if anyone wants it!). The website has served that function, but we have also tried to be true to the domain name and have included information beyond our project on other reduced tillage strategies for vegetable production as well as some information on soil health. Continue reading

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Join me for a nutrient management webinar next week

Thursday, February 12 at 2 p.m., I’ll be giving a webinar on winterkilled cover crops and nutrient management for the University of Maryland Nutrient Management Program. I’ll talk about what we’ve observed with respect to N and S cycling after radish and oats, and I’ll dip my toes into the contentious waters of P management and cover crops.

The webinar is free. After my talk, Sjoerd Duiker of Penn State will talk about the impacts tillage has on soil properties, so you may want to stick around for that, too. Pre-registration is not required. Join the webinar and get more information here.

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Under Cover: Rotational No-till and Mulching Systems for Organic Vegetable Farms in Germany

It sounds like there was a great turnout for Jan’s eOrganic webinar on the cut-and-carry mulch system he and his colleagues are using for organic vegetable production in Germany. My favorite quote:

“You can completely screw up the system and do a lot of things wrong.” – Jan-Hendrik Cropp

Don’t let that deter you! Continue reading

Posted in Cover Crops, Rye, Soil, Soil health, Soil moisture, Soil temperature, Vegetables, Vetch | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on Under Cover: Rotational No-till and Mulching Systems for Organic Vegetable Farms in Germany

Mark your calendars and get ready for an information deluge from Germany

Jan

“Young Jan” (I haven’t cleared this nickname with him yet…) will be giving a webinar on their “cut and carry” rotational no-till in Germany.

Back in 2013, Ray and I got an inquiry from “a farmer in Germany” who was preparing a seminar on soil health and reduced tillage and wanted more information on what we were doing. He did not send a picture (why would he?), so I drew upon a stereotype in my head and figured he was middle-aged. I know, I shouldn’t make assumptions. Apparently, Ray was prone to similar assumptions, and when I later sent him photos from Jan’s visit to Maine, he dubbed him “Young Jan.” Well, Young Jan is giving an eOrganic webinar on January 20th about their reduced tillage work using cover crops, roller/crimpers, and “cut and carry” mulch in Germany. Continue reading

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Happy International Year of Soils (& get your free sticker!)

Scientific American coverScientific American recently ran an interesting article about the possibility that other planets out there may be “better” than Earth for supporting life. That may be true, but our planet has plenty that should make us proud earthlings. Top among these points of pride is Earth’s fantastic soils, teeming with life and supporting an abundance of terrestrial creatures (including ourselves). This isn’t a competition between Earth and other yet-to-be-discovered planets, but let me just ask: Continue reading

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