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No-Till Farming in North Dakota

Another '60s concept that has now resurfaced with increased vigor: soil-conserving, no-till farming. In the '60s, all us gardeners were reading 90-year-old Ruth Stout's How to Have a Green Thumb Without an Aching Back, wherein she just kept adding bales of straw to her garden and tucking seeds under the rotting mulch -- no digging.
Then in 1978, Japanese farmer Masanobu Fukuoka published One-straw Revolution: Introduction to Natural Farming. It seemed fringe-ish at the time, and in fact Wendell Berry commented that it wouldn't work in America.
Well, things have moved along, and there was an article in last week's New York Times by Erica Goode about North Dakota farming methods that "…promote… leaving fields untilled…" and "…mimic the biology of virgin land, can revive degenerated earth, minimize erosion, encourage pants growth and increase farmer's profits…"
No chemical fertilizers or fungicides, can you believe it?
So wonderful to read about good things nowadays…


Anonymous said...

all good. suspect big bucks will find reason to negate it all. hope not.

Martin said...

Off-topic but referring to your posts re buying a small house in a city or town. A couple of books that might be helpful to those who choose to do so are; The Integral Urban House by the Farallones Institute/Sym Van Der Ryn, 1982, and The Urban Homestead by Kelly Coyne and Erik Knutsen, expanded and revised edition, 2010.

Steve said...

We're no-tilling our vegetables this year after starting last year with the fruit trees. Certainly was easier to plant this year.

Anonymous said...

Been living in New Mexico for awhile and I cannot believe the farming practices.
Most of the state has very sandy soil (all beach no ocean). The farmers plow often,
they do not plant most times when they plow. They plow in the spring and summer
and twice in the fall. The wind which is our main resource blows hard and always. You would feel sick to see road graders plowing the sand from county and state roads.

The dust bowl will return and the farmers will ask for a bail out from the government.
Got to love those furiously independent farmers.

Anonymous said...

All of the big farms in NC have switched to no-till. The disturbing part of this transition is the fact that every no-till farm that I have seen buys Monsanto GMO roundup ready seed and then sprays the crop with glyphosate herbicide to control weeds. The soil does look better, lots of crop residue left on the surface so there is a nice layer of mulch for the next crop. It is better than plowing to control weeds that would otherwise compete for nutrients but you can't save those seeds. And you have to rely on chemical input, and you also have to support a greedy corporation. Monsanto has bought a lot of smaller seed companies and is more than willing to prosecute farmers that save seeds that display genetically engineered traits. It does not matter if GMO Monsanto seed accidentally pollinates your crop, you can be held liable if you save those seeds. Monsanto is evil. I love this blog and I apologize if this comes across as just cranky buzzkill. I hope I'm wrong about the NY Times article. I know Rodale has experimented with organic no-till. I hope these farms are something like that. I fear GMO just was not mentioned to sort of make it sound better than it is. Backyard vegetable gardens are best.

Anonymous said...

okay, someone educate me...please.

I thought the entire point of no till was to not have to use chemicals/gmo???

up above seems too weird.

Anonymous said...

She traded her cubicle for a plow


Kellie Pettyjohn operates her 2-acre Wily Carrot Farm outside of Mancos. Pettyjohn, who left a career as a conservationist to run her farm, says she wants to convince more women that agriculture is a viable career option.

Anonymous said...

93 Percent of the World’s Seeds Have Been Lost in the Last 80 Years


Anonymous said...

L.A. City Council signs off on permit-free curbside gardening

Once an act of guerrilla gardening, residents can now grow curbside veggie plots without permits


Anonymous said...

similar sort of no till, but with a difference

http://www.alternativesjournal.ca/people-and-profiles/yield-dreams?utm_source=internal&utm_medium=In Text&utm_content=[no till]&utm_campaign=More Content

Yield of Dreams

By getting back to the roots, an Ontario farmer baffles crop scientists and genetically modified seed makers

FOR 20 YEARS, Dean Glenney has been planting his corn and soybean crops in exactly the same spots. Using a reconfigured five-row planter with narrow tires that line up precisely between well-established rows, he plants seeds right into the roots of last season’s crops. Instead of turning the soil, he lets worms bring dead leaves and other detritus down into their holes and act as a slow-release fertilizer.

Glenney’s method, fencerow farming, produces nearly twice the yield of neighbouring farms in Dunnville, Ontario


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