Recruiting Reduced Tillage Organic Veg Farmers - Nominate by Nov 24th!
We are working with a team of researchers, educators and farmers around the Northeast and Midwest to investigate the potential of reduced tillage methods for organic vegetable production. These approaches may hold great promise to improve the profitability of organic production by reducing labor and fuel inputs, and ultimately, improving soil health.
However, few organic farmers are currently using reduced tillage practices. Farmers are concerned about potential increases in weeds, slower growth of crops, and lower yields. It is not clear how to best manage cover crops or how to incorporate organic amendments without conventional tillage. Furthermore, we expect that different approaches to reducing tillage may be optimal for farms of different scales. Nonetheless, we know that some farmers are pioneering these methods. We would like your help in identifying them, so that we can invite expert organic reduced tillage farmers to help us clarify the best methods for success and pitfalls to avoid.
We define reduced tillage as a decreased reliance on inversion tillage, including reducing the intensity, frequency, depth, and/or width of tillage. Examples can be broad in scope. Tillage can be reduced by targeting narrow strips where the crop is to be planted or with methods based on intensive mulching. Inserting multi-year stretches of sod crops in the vegetable rotation is an approach to reduce the frequency of tillage over time, whereas setting aside permanent grass strips between beds can decrease the proportion of land area tilled.
We plan to host expert reduced tillage organic vegetable farmers in an intensive 3-day retreat to ascertain the best methods and what makes them successful. Briefly, a trained facilitator will guide a panel of expert farmers through structured brainstorming, numerous discussions, and consensus seeking to develop a precise statement of all required duties and tasks. Based upon our findings, we will design education tools as well as new research efforts to evaluate these methods. These efforts are funded by a new OREI grant focused on reducing tillage in organic vegetables.
We ask that you assist us in this work by nominating outstanding organic reduced tillage farmers you know. Please follow this LINK to complete the online nomination form. We are focusing our efforts on the northern tier of the US and southern Canada, including farms of any scale. All farmer expenses will be paid, plus an honorarium. Please CIRCULATE in your networks!
Thanks for your help! We appreciate a response from you by November 24, 2014. Feel free to contact Brian Caldwell at [log in to unmask] with any questions.
Brian Caldwell, Anu Rangarajan and Ryan Maher
Horticulture Department, Cornell University
Carolyn LowryGraduate Research AssistantDepartment of HorticultureMichigan State University