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Reduced Tillage

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Tarps on permanent beds.

Manage Weeds With Tarping

By Ryan Maher / July 15, 2019

Tarping has become a popular practice for small-scale organic farms to manage weeds. Typically, beds are tilled and prepared for planting and then covered using a durable, black plastic tarp. Tillage combined with warming soils under tarps can promote the germination of weed seeds which then die when starved for light. Tarps are then removed…

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Why Strip Tillage?

By Ryan Maher / July 15, 2019

Why strip tillage? 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…

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Why permanent beds?

By Ryan Maher / July 15, 2019

Permanent beds can help improve soil health on the farm-scale. Rather than plow and harrow by the field, fields are divided into a set of beds. Field traffic (tractor or foot) is then restricted to the between-bed area, year after year. These pathways can be managed with cultivation, mulches, cover crops, or perennial sod. Especially…

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Conference Spotlight: SFP Presenting in Early 2019

By Kelsie Raucher / December 3, 2018

The Cornell Small Farms Program will be attending several conferences in early 2019. From presentations of our research to special events, you can connect with the our team and fellow farmers at the conferences listed below. New York State Vegetable Growers Association  2019 Empire State Producer’s Expo Reduced Tillage Project: Ryan Maher, Brian Caldwell, &…

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Local Farms Trial Tarping for Reduced Tillage Research

By Kacey Deamer / October 15, 2018

As the growing season winds down, Haley Rylander, a masters student working with the reduced tillage project of the Cornell Small Farms Program, has been visiting with farmers who have taken an active role in her research. Haley shares some of these farmers’ experiences and gives insight about using tarps to suppress weeds and reduce…

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Handbook Offers How-To and Tools for Reduced Tillage

By Kacey Deamer / October 11, 2018

If you’re interested in improving your farm’s soil health, reduced tillage may be the answer. Reduced tillage practices can minimize soil disturbance by using less intensity, going shallower, and restricting the width or tilled-area. They can be applied to a bed, within a field or across the whole farm. The practices can take many forms,…

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no till beds

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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Efficient Use of Cover Crops at the Food Farm

By Tara Hammonds / April 3, 2017

by Brian Caldwell and Ryan Maher Janaki Fisher-Merritt grew up on a pioneering organic vegetable farm.  Janaki’s parents, John and Jane Fisher-Merritt, started The Food Farm in northern Minnesota in 1975.  They moved to their current location in 1988, became certified organic in 1990, and started the first CSA in the Duluth area in 1994. …

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Reduced Tillage Webinars

By ias35 / March 13, 2017

The Cornell RT project teamed up with Michigan State University and the University of Maine to offer three webinars and share the latest research on reduced tillage for organic vegetable production. Listen to the recordings and learn about practices that fit your operation, from permanent beds, tarps, and mulches, to cover cropping, strip tillage, and cultivation tools.…

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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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