Understanding No Till Farming

Did you know that billions of tons of ‘good’ soil are lost every year? One way to stop the loss is with no till farming. This practice helps restore organic soil, keeping fertile soil around for much longer. Today’s standard agricultural techniques damage a soil’s ability to stay fertile, including tilling; however, many farmers today adopted the no till farming technique to help keep soil healthy.

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What is Tilling?

Tilling began thousands of years ago when plows became popular in Europe. The ability to plant more seeds faster without as much work was enticing to farmers, so they adopted it in the United States too. Tilling turns over the top layer of soil – typically the top six to ten inches. Farmers do this before planting new seeds. Tilling is thought to aerate the soil as well as work around the nutrients that the soil needs deep down.

The problem with tilling is that it disrupts the soil, making it looser. You brought the ‘nutrient rich’ soil to the bottom and the bare soil (without nutrients) to the top. This bare soil can easily get transferred by the wind or water. When you till, you also remove any good insects or microbes that the soil contains and needs.

Non-Tilling Farming

Without tilling, the soil is able to retain its nutrients without the risk of loss. The residue from previous crops remain at the top of the soil and help future crops. With proper nutrients, soil can take in more water, delivering healthier crops.

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Without tilling the soil, it has the ability to slowly evaporate the water it receives. This gives the crop a better chance at obtaining more nutrients, which can lead to more crops even when the weather seems dry. In addition, the necessary bacteria that soil needs will be left untouched, giving the organic matter a better chance at survival.

There are two types of no till farming that you can utilize:

  • Conventional – Use of herbicides during farming to help prepare the soil and eliminate weeds or pests. This can pose a threat to the crops, though, as the herbicides can do more damage than tilling may cause.
  • Organic – As you probably guessed, organic farming doesn’t use herbicides. It uses natural methods to reduce weeds and pests. Organic farmers use cover crops and crop rotation to keep the crops and soil healthy.

No till farming is quickly becoming a popular method for farming as it helps retain the soil’s nutrients. When used in combination with other organic farming techniques, it can provide great results for farmers.

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