Often organic farming is criticized for using too much tillage as a method for weed control and for terminating one crop to prepare for another. This is especially true for organic vegetable growers.
Although no-till techniques have been developed and proven financially successful for small acreage growers using a lot of labour, there has not been much work done on scaling up no-till techniques for mid and larger sized operations that use more machinery to reduce the labour inputs.
To tackle this problem, Ken Laing of Orchard Hill Farm near St.Thomas is working in cooperation with EFAO to trial a wide variety of no-till methods for organic vegetable production. Over the next 3 years, Ken will be looking at spinach, peas, beans, sweet corn, tomatoes, sunflowers and garlic using three different planting situations:
- Into winter killed cover crops;
- Into deep compost mulch; and
- Into roller/crimped terminated cover crops.
Some crops will be seeded, some transplanted and some both. The techniques that show the most promise in side-by-side plots the first year, will be explored further using replicated plots in the following 2 years.
Planting peas into deep compost mulch with 2-row vacuum John Deere planter.