Yes Mr. Lean, No Till is a good idea

Farmers spoke yesterday about how applying manure and compost, minimising tilling, growing cover crops and turning them in to the ground, and managing pastureland improves the soil, increases yields and absorbs carbon at far higher levels than expected.

And that\’s what No Till farming does. For which you need GM crops and hefty doses of herbicides.

Long live industrialised farming!

5 comments on “Yes Mr. Lean, No Till is a good idea

  1. Some farmer please correct me if I’m wrong but “growing cover crops and turning them in to the ground” sounds an awful lot like tilling to me.

    Yeah, I know. I could read the Lean article but I’ve never learnt anything from one yet, it’s a lovely sunny day & I’m in a good mood, so don’t want to spoil it. Can someone else suffer for the advancement of ignorance?

  2. Bloke, you’re right.

    Min (or no) till is sowing crops into the stubble of the previous crop in one pass without doing the diesel-heavy slog of plough, (time), harrow to create a seedbed.

    Cutting the soil up by cultivation has benefits (weed control, removing compaction from previous work) but exposes organic material in the soil to oxidation and loss (in addition to the substantial diesel cost).

    Cover crop material ploughed in outweighs the carbon lost but still uses diesel.

  3. What Ed said. The whole point of min till is not disturbing the soil, and letting the microbes and earthworms etc improve the soil, without constantly turning the whole thing upside down at yearly intervals.

    It can work, in the right soils, and in the right weather conditions. But it doesn’t suit all soil types and in certain weather conditions (like this very wet year) ploughing is superior as you create more space under the furrow for the water to seep down into, keeping the top drier, and more easily worked. In very wet conditions min till can just create a very soggy pudding of the soil.

    The plough was invented thousands of years ago, and hasn’t changed much since then, for a reason. It does a consistently good job of creating a a seedbed in all sorts of soil types and weather conditions. It may be slightly more expensive than min till, but if it allows you to get consistently reasonable crops vs some very good ones and some poor ones under min till, then my view is that consistency in food production is a better aim than a roller coaster of high and low yields.

  4. What Jim says. In the high-rainfall areas of N/W Europe, plowing is still very much a viable management tool. Bonuses is also better disease/weed management. Reducing herbicide/fungicide-applications are also savings. Tim, it’s true that ag must be industrial, but it doesn’t always apply that the latest biotech is either more profitable or appropriate for every situation. Low-rent areas of the west/midwestern US and Canada may be appropriate for no-till. Their yields are moderate and they can’t afford many passes. Our soils have higher yield potential and more rainfall, which also means that it takes slightly more management to meet the yield potential *and* good quality crops. Whether you are using more diesel or not is neither here nor there, it’s how much that diesel costs vs. the alternative that matters.

  5. As usual, Lean is talking b aurochs.
    Have you seen what one ton beasts can do to a small paddock? Apart from the soil compaction, you might as well have ploughed it.

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