Reduced Tillage in Vegetables

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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

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…

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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…

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No Till, Permanent Beds for Organic Vegetables

By Tara Hammonds | January 11, 2016

by Brian Caldwell & Ryan Maher Four Winds Farm mulches with compost to suppress weeds and improve their soil. Jay and Polly Armour bought a rundown farm in 1988, with…

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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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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.