Posts by Ryan Maher

Ryan began with the SFP in the summer of 2013 and focuses on research and extension in soil health practices for vegetables. He is a Baltimore native with family and educational ties to CNY. After graduating from SUNY-ESF in 2003 he spent two summers training on diversified vegetable farms, first in SW Oregon and then in the Boston metro area. In 2007, he graduated from Iowa State with an MS in Sustainable Agriculture focusing on soils in native grassland restorations. He spent five years with the USDA-ARS in St. Paul MN, coordinating research on nutrient cycling in perennial forage crops. Ryan, his wife Jackie, and daughters Gia and Olive are happy to settle in CNY and enjoy the food, farms, forested hills, and water of the Finger Lakes region.
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Why Strip Tillage?

By Ryan Maher / July 15, 2019

Repeated, intensive tillage degrades soil structure and creates compacted layers than can restrict plant roots. Strip tillage targets soil disturbance to the planting zone and can help retain surface residue, preserve soil moisture, build soil structure, and reduce erosion. This approach can give vegetables a good start by warming soils, forming a good seedbed, stimulating…

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Why permanent beds?

By Ryan Maher / July 15, 2019

Permanent bed systems can help farms improve soil health at the farm-level. Rather than plow and harrow by the field, fields are divided into a set of beds and field traffic, whether tractor or foot, is restricted to the between-bed area, year after year. These pathways can be managed with cultivation, mulches, cover crops, or…

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Tarps on permanent beds.

Take Me Out to a Tarped Field

By Ryan Maher / April 6, 2018

Learning a small-scale organic method to reduce tillage with less weeds  Baseball fans know tarps are critical for keeping fields clean. Heavy rain falling on the diamond can quickly spoil a game. When you’re running for cover, turn your eyes to the field and you will see a crew working in unison to unroll a…

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No-Till Organic Relay Cropping in Kentucky

By Ryan Maher / January 8, 2018

Salamander Springs Farm uses powerful cover crop sequences to produce crops, forage and seed. Susana Lein is ahead of the curve.  She has put together so many practices at Salamander Springs Farm near Berea, Kentucky that we can only scratch the surface in this article. Permaculture principles are at work in all aspects of the…

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Reduced Tillage Field Day – Summer 2017

By Ryan Maher / July 26, 2017

Tools and Tactics for Organic Vegetables at Any Scale August 14th, 2017, 4:00-7:00 pm Location: Freeville Organic Research Farm at the Cornell HC Thompson Vegetable Research Farm, 133 Fall Creek Road, Freeville NY The Cornell Reduced Tillage Team held a field tour and discussion of practices to build soils and manage weeds in organic vegetables.…

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Mulch for Organic Vegetables—Grown in Place

By Ryan Maher / July 3, 2017

Organic farmers and researchers utilize cover crops to reduce the labor and expense of organic mulches. by  Ryan Maher and Brian Caldwell Organic mulches like hay or straw can suppress weeds and improve soil.  They are used by many small scale vegetable farmers, but the cost of the material and application may be prohibitive for…

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Winter squash on beds

Reduced Tillage on Permanent Beds

By Ryan Maher / March 10, 2017

Permanent bed systems can help small farms improve soils and reduce tillage for a diversity of crops. Learn how farmers are adopting these systems and hear research results on how tillage, mulching and tarping practices can impact your weed control, labor use, and crop productivity. Ryan Maher and Brian Caldwell – Cornell University, Mark Hutton – University…

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Reducing Tillage at Goranson Farm

By Ryan Maher / October 5, 2015

by Brian Caldwell & Ryan Maher Case study of a farm reducing tillage to improve soils. Rob Johanson and Jan Goranson had a good-sized tractor, a 100” rototiller and a potato farm with 35 acres of sandy soil in coastal Maine.  It was the mid 1980’s and they had just purchased the farm from Jan’s mother. …

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