In the News: How We Help NYS Farmers Implement Reduced Tillage Systems

Sweeping problems under the rug usually leads to larger problems in the future, unless of course, the problem is weeds and the rug is tarps. Tarping fields as a weed management strategy is an integral part of many organic and reduced tillage operations. 

Cornell Small Farms Program director, Anu Rangarajan, and Reduced Tillage project coordinator, Ryan Maher, were recently featured in an article about farmers’ tarping efforts in Essex, NY. 

Reduced tillage practices are important for building soil health. Our project works to help growers at diverse scales reduce tillage while managing vegetable production systems that build better soils.

“Tarping in small-scale vegetable systems has emerged as a tool for suppressing weeds, managing soils and reducing tillage, and can be easily incorporated with other soil-building practices such as composting, mulching and the use of cover crops,” Maher told the American Agriculturalist

Our Reduced Tillage project provides resources and support to farmers interested in switching to a reduced tillage model. Maher and the team host workshops, publish fact sheets and webinars to help farmers learn about improving soil health on their properties. 

“For the last 15 years, we have worked to advance reduced-tillage approaches that work across all scales of production and for both organic and conventional producers,” Rangarajan said. “We have been grateful for support from the Northeast SARE program as well as the USDA-NIFA Organic Research and Extension Initiative that has allowed us to create specific programs for small-scale growers.”

Read the original article on the American Agriculturalist. 

To learn more about the many reduced tillage opportunities, visit the project page or contact Ryan Maher at

Anna Birn

Anna Birn is a junior studying Agricultural Science with a minor in Community Food Systems. She works as a student assistant at the Cornell Small Farms Program, supporting its communications and outreach efforts.