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.
News and Updates
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…Read More
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.…Read More
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…Read More
About Reduced Tillage in Vegetables
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.
We collaborate with other researchers at Cornell, extension educators within Cornell Cooperative Extension, and other organizations and universities across the Northeast.
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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