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Reduced Tillage

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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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Reusable Black Tarps Suppress Weeds and Make Organic Reduced Tillage More Viable

By Haley Rylander / January 14, 2019

Research on the potential of tarps to reduce or even replace tillage by controlling weeds and decomposing crop residue. By Haley Rylander Introduction Organic vegetable farmers rely heavily on intensive soil tillage to control weeds, incorporate amendments and cover crop residue, and prepare clean seedbeds. Intensive tillage, however, can decrease long-term soil health by causing…

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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 Haley Rylander / 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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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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Small Scale No-Till Vegetables at Seeds of Solidarity Farm

By Claire Cekander / October 3, 2016

by Brian Caldwell and Ryan Maher Mulches and tarps combine to build active soils and suppress weeds. In 1996, Ricky Baruc and Deb Habib moved to 30 acres of forested land in Orange, MA.  Roughly 5 acres of woods over uneven, rocky soil were logged and cleared in preparation for a house, farm and teaching center. …

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A Vegetable Farm Covered in Green

By Claire Cekander / July 5, 2016

by Brian Caldwell Blue Heron Farm uses grass strips and cover crops to improve soils, increase productivity The arrangement of vegetable fields into a bed layout with permanent growing areas and separate wheeltracks (alleys) has several advantages.  In contrast to systems in which beds are re-formed every year, compaction from tractor tires is confined to…

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