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About the Project

About the project

Many vegetable growers rely on intensive tillage in their production system. Tillage can be a critical tool for controlling weeds, preparing seed beds, managing residues and incorporating nutrients. But intensive and repeated tillage can also be detrimental to long-term soil health. Reduced tillage practices, along with rotations, cover crops, and amendments, are a way to advance vegetable farms towards greater sustainability.

Pre-plant tarps can be an alternative to tillage for weed control. (Freeville, NY)

We are a collaboration among Cornell University in Ithaca and Long Island, the University of Maine, and Michigan State University, partnering with extension services and a team of experienced growers.

Our current work is focused on helping organic vegetable growers develop successful reduced tillage methods that contribute to managing weeds, cover crops, and soil fertility. We are working across a wide range of farm scales, from strip tillage systems to small-scale permanent beds.



This project works to help vegetable growers answer the following questions:

  • How can reduced tillage practices reduce weeds?
  • How can reduced tillage practices help build better soils?
  • How can they improve water use?
  • How can they improve labor and fuel use efficiency?
  • How can they help ensure long-term productivity?

We do field research, partner with farmers and extension educators, and aim to build a network of growers to share their experience, with the ultimate goal of helping farmers find practices that work on their own farm.