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Reduced Tillage

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Tarps on permanent beds.

Join Our Farmer to Farmer “Tarp Talk” Webinars in March

By Ryan Maher / February 25, 2021

Tarps are clearly a multifunctional tool for small farmers and are being sized, sourced, and applied to fit the farm. How much can we ask of tarps, how are they changing our tillage and weeds, and how do we handle and troubleshoot the shortcomings? We hosted a series of lunchtime webinars in partnership with the…

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Learn About Soil Health at SFP-Organized Sessions During 2021 Empire State Producers Expo

By Kacey Deamer / December 17, 2020

Join us on January 12, 2021, to hear farmer experiences and research on cover cropping and no-till practices from around the region during the Soil Health Sessions at the virtual 2021 Empire State Producers Expo. Our own Ryan Maher, the coordinator of our Reduced Tillage project, organized these sessions on soil health, cover crops and…

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In the News: Reduced Tillage Project Partner Named to USDA National Organic Standards Board

By Ryan Maher / October 19, 2020

The Cornell Small Farms Program is happy to share the news that Brian Caldwell has been appointed to the USDA National Organic Standards Board, beginning a five-year term in 2021. Brian was a major contributor to the Reduced Tillage project for five years before retiring from Cornell in the spring of 2019. Brian brought decades…

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Reduced Tillage Project Uncovers Tarping Impacts for Organic Vegetable Farmers

By Ryan Maher / September 8, 2020

One farmer shared with us in early summer: “If we didn’t have a tarp down before our mixed greens this spring, we would have been in big trouble with our CSA. In our untarped plantings, we lost the crop to weeds. We’re not going to do that again.”  Tarps are becoming a versatile tool to…

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ryan maher reduced tillage image 4 cropped field day

In the News: Deep Dive into Compost

By Kelsie Raucher / March 13, 2020

Reduced tillage practices and weed suppression management are common goals of small-scale organic farmers.   A lesser-known method is deep-composting, which was presented by the Reduced Tillage Project and a team of Cornell University researchers at the Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA) Winter Conference as a solution to weed suppression in a reduced tillage system. …

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

By Anna Birn / December 16, 2019

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,…

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Join Our Tarping for Reduced Tillage Workshop Series

By Ryan Maher / October 2, 2019

Are you a vegetable farmer already using tarps? Or are you wondering if and how tarps could work best on your farm? The Cornell Small Farms Program is excited to announce a series of workshops on tarping in small-scale vegetable systems, to be held in Maine and New York this fall. Tarping has emerged as…

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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

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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