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The Do’s & Dont’s of No-Till Farming

Embrace the stubble and take part in No-Till November this month! By incorporating no-till and cover cropping practices on your farm, you can naturally enhance your soil’s health and experience all the benefits that come along with it. While taking on this challenge, here a few do’s and don’ts for you to follow:

Do:

Determine if no-till farming is right for you

  • The climate and soil type in your region, as well as the crops you intend to grow, can influence how beneficial no-till practices will be for your farm. Talk to a consultant at Full Spectrum to learn if no-till is the right choice for you.

Invest in modified equipment

  • Having the right tools is crucial for having a productive no-till farm. Rollers/crimpers can be used to kill cover crops and produce “green manure” or mulch that suppresses weeds, retains moisture, and provides organic matter as it decomposes. Weighted slicer and planting attachments can cut through the new mulch, create furrows and plant new seeds simultaneously.

Rotate crops

  • Rotating crops can help with the suppression of harmful weeds, pests and diseases as it breaks up their natural cycles. It can also improve soil fertility, nitrogen availability, diversity of beneficial organisms, and other physical properties of the soil.

Be ready to take on new challenges

  • One of the common problems that arises when transitioning to no-till farming is the presence of new diseases and weeds that would not be found on a conventionally tilled farm. These problems can be treated, but will different techniques than those used for conventional tilling.

Be patient

  • No-Till farming is an investment in your soil’s health, which may take several years to be successful . Many farmers are nervous of the up-front costs of purchasing new equipment, and new challenges in terms of weeds, potential diseases and changing soil conditions. However, if done properly, no-till farming can increase long-term profits by reducing labor and fuel use, and lowering irrigation and fertilizer requirements.

Monitor your soil

  • As you transition to no-till farming, the properties of your soil will change, such as pH and moisture content. By frequently testing your soil, you can update your practices to fit its changing needs. Talk to a consultant at Full Spectrum to get your soil tested.

Don’t:

Plant just any seeds

  • No-till seedbeds are usually wetter and cooler, so plant seeds that are adapted to those conditions

Think that you can’t grow organically

  • A common misconception is that no-till farming requires excessive herbicide use, and therefore cannot be certified organic. If green manure is layered thick enough, it can naturally suppress weeds. Rotating crops can also be used to break up the natural cycles of weeds.

Forget the little details

  • Distributing crop residues evenly is crucial to maintaining a successful no-till farm, as well as making sure that your equipment is properly adjusted. Cooler temperatures and higher moisture in the soil can influence the ideal planting times of your farm, so make sure you change your practices accordingly.

Give up

  • It can take several years before your soil is fully restored, and some trial and error as you learn what practices work best for your changing farm. With the right knowledge and a bit of patience, no-till farming can and will work.

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