Reduced Tillage in Vegetables

Project Lead: Ryan Maher, Anu Rangarajan

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Tillage can be a valuable management tool on a vegetable farm but intensive and repeated tillage is hard on soils. We support small to mid-scale vegetable farmers, many using organic practices, in adopting reduced tillage practices on their farm. These practices can take many different forms. Our goal is to integrate reduced tillage with other soil building practices, to foster the growth and viability of vegetable farming in New York and the Northeast.

We work across different tools and practices, fit to the the scale and resources of the farm, and are learning from many innovative farmers leading the way. We conduct applied research to trial new and emerging practices to understand the science behind them while sharing practical lessons learned to support farmers in fitting them into their own operations. We partner with farmers in experimenting on their farm and offer workshops and other training opportunities for farmers to share their methods and ideas with one another. Explore this website to learn more about our research, events, and resources.

 

Project Resources

News and Updates

Reduced Tillage Project Sharing Research at Soil Health Field Days

By Ryan Maher | July 15, 2022

Hear the latest Cornell Small Farms Program research on reduced and no-till practices for vegetables at Soil Health and Climate Resiliency Field Days this July. We’ll be sharing our research…

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To Tarp, to Mulch or to Do Both: That Was the Question

By Bob Tuori | April 4, 2022

CSA Farm experiments to minimize inputs, mechanization and soil disturbance in their market-scale potato growing operation. By Bob Tuori, Ryan Maher, and Michael Salzl A major concern on our highly…

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The Empire (State) Strikes Back: Expo Recordings Now Available

By Stephen Stresow | March 10, 2022

Pass the time waiting for winter to turn to spring with new educational videos. Recordings from the 2022 Empire State Producers Expo are now available on the Cornell School of…

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About Reduced Tillage in Vegetables

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Reduced tillage practices minimize soil disturbance with targeted and appropriate tillage based on farm goals. Reduced tillage means less intensity, shallower depth, and less area disturbed, either in the bed, field or across the farm. It can mean less frequent tillage and lead to successful adoption of no-till practices.

Practices take many forms. They may be system-wide, applied across the whole farm, or only fit in a part of the rotation for specific crops. They often maintain the benefits of some tillage for managing weeds, making a better seed bed for crop establishment, or incorporating residues.  How they take shape on a farm can depend on farm size and soil characteristics, access to equipment or materials, farm skill sets, and labor availability.

Project Partners

We collaborate with other researchers at Cornell, extension educators within Cornell Cooperative Extension, and other organizations and universities across the Northeast.

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About 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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Reduced Tillage - Subscribe for Updates and Opportunities

Subscribe to get the latest updates and information on strategies to reduce tillage on your farm. You'll be first to hear about webinars, field days, and online courses that will connect you with other growers and our research results as we look to find ways to be successful in building soils on your farm.