No till and organic

Farmers are being urged to adopt technology that allows “no tilling and low tilling” in a move that would also reduce the environmental impact of food production.


The Soil Association, which champions organic farming, criticised the Government’s plan, describing it as unambitious. It is calling for more farms to convert to organic production techniques to boost carbon capture.

Peter Melchett, its policy director, said: “The Government states that historically soil was protected using good agricultural management techniques such as crop rotation, which allowed soils to naturally regenerate and grow crops sustainably.

“Organic farming is underpinned by such practices and, along with its recognised ability to store soil carbon, should be acknowledged as a key approach to protect our vital soils.”

As I understand it, organic cannot be no till. For you need to plough and farrow in order to get rid of the weeds: or you have to use herbicides.

As in organic you cannot use herbicides then you have to plough and farrow.

If that is indeed true (please correct me if wrong) the Melchett is lying through his teeth, isn\’t he?

5 thoughts on “No till and organic”

  1. There are those that follow the “No Plough” idea started in “The plowman’s Folly”

    Weeds are pretty much ignored except inasmuch as they act as a green manure. Myself I confine pigs to the small area I’m going to use as a seed bed and wait until they’ve pretty much dug it up, then sow whatever seed I’m planting there.

    I’ve I don’t happen to have pigs I find planting potatoes breaks the land up nicely too.

  2. Ploughing to control weed seeds seems to be necessary on any large scale farm, but the research is hard to work out – I was looking at Rodale Institute research which seems to be the basis that Organic farms sequester more carbon than conventional. But it looks like they are applying lots of carbon rich manure to the organic plots so it isn’t any wonder there is more carbon in them. Not a like for like comparison.

  3. I have read about this “no plough” idea, that is either genius or madness.

    But who on earth believes that you can get rid of weeds by ploughing? Or by not ploughing? Or herbicides? That’s the whole point of “weeds”, by definition, they are plants you don’t want that will grow wherever they want and whatever you do. If you plough soil then you spread the seeds of weeds and give them a new place to grow, is all.

  4. So Much For Subtlety

    I am sure that you could have an organic form of No Till agriculture. You could, for instance, lay out a lot of black plastic with regularly spaced holes where you could plant the crop you want. The weeds would be suppressed by lack of light. Whether this would be good for the soil or not is another matter.

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