Ken Laing – Organic No-Till Vegetable Trials
To reduce tillage in organic vegetable systems, Ken trialed a total of 13 organic vegetable crops no-till planted or transplanted into nine cover crop combinations.
The most promising no-till planting strategies that produced good weed control and good yields were not continuous no-till systems, since digging root crops is a major tillage event and establishing cover crops to plant into required tillage. They included:
- Organic garlic no-till planted into a mown cover crop of sorghum sudangrass without any tillage for weed control
- Organic potatoes no-till planted into mown cover crop of rye/hairy vetch without any hilling or tillage for weed control
- Winter squash transplanted no-till into rolled hairy vetch and deep compost mulch without any tillage for weed control
- Reduce tillage for organic vegetable production
- Use a mechanized approach suitable for mid-scale vegetable grower (i.e. 10-50 ac)
- Avoid the use of agricultural plastic materials
No-till Strategies Used
- Planting or transplanting into winter killed cover crops
- Planting or transplanting into green cover crops either before or after termination
- Planting or transplanting into deep compost mulch (DCM)
Research Strategies Used
- 2020 | A broad survey or proof of concept of many strategies and crops to narrow down promising combinations.
- 2021 | Demonstration plots of the most promising combinations from 2020
- 2022 | Randomized, replicated plots of the demonstration plots from 2021
Follow Ken’s Work
This is the second season of Ken Laing’s No-Till Vegetable Trials, and the first year they’ve been run as part of Living Lab – Ontario. Here’s a summary of what’s been happening so far in 2021.
As a collaborator on the Living Lab – Ontario initiative, the Ecological Farmers Association of Ontario (EFAO) is one of 10 partners who will facilitate on-farm research trials focused on reduced tillage and continuous cover. EFAO will support two trials, one in organic field crop production and one in organic vegetable production.
Encouraged by the success of hand planted no-till garlic into winter killed sorghum-sudangrass this past season, read about how Ken tried to mechanize the process using a no-till transplanter for their 2021 crop.