A weekly blog for all things conservation
I have written many times about soil health- why we need it, why we should care, what it takes to get it, etc. I won’t bore you with too many of those details in this article, but one of the principles of soil health is “do not disturb the soil”. This is the reason that I talk about no till gardens, no till cropping practices, cover crops, and the list goes on. The soil is home to hundreds of thousands of organisms per teaspoon, if you have good soil health. If you are one that “needs” to plow/rototill/etc., you are essentially completely destroying those organisms’ homes. It is no different that a major hurricane coming through some ocean front town on the coast. All these beneficial organisms have built their homes in the open spaces in the soil. We need to leave them alone as much as possible for them to stay and do the good things that they do.
One of those ways is no till. Now, no till is not exactly “no” till, right? What is actually happening is the planter only disturbs the soil every 5” or 7.5”, right where the seeds are being dropped. And it only disturbs maybe ¼ to 1.5” deep. Conventional ag would plow 8-10” deep, then disc it at least one or two times to get a good level field, and then plant. That way leaves everything in the top 8” destroyed. I was digging in a large field a year ago and there was only 10-12” of topsoil at the very most there. If we kill everything in the top 8-10”, and there is only 10-12” there to begin with, that doesn’t leave much there to start rebuilding things for the next generation. If we no till gardens, we are doing the same. Only disturb the amount of soil you need to. If you are planting started vegetables, just dig a hole large enough for the ”start”. If you are doing seeds, again only disturb just enough soil to get good soil-to-seed contact. Leave the rest alone.
For smaller producers, equipment just keeps getting bigger and bigger, and more and more expensive. To try and help bridge the gap, we applied for, and received money to purchase a no till drill for the general public to rent from us. We received that piece of equipment today. It is a 3’ Genesis no till drill from Rovendale Ag. This unit will be available for rent from the district next spring. It can be used for food plots, reseeding (or reviving) older, worn-out hay fields, etc. We got one that is self-contained. It has its own hydraulic lift on it so it can be pulled with a UTV, pick-up truck, small tractor without hydraulics, etc. If all goes well, we will look into getting a bigger one in the future, for larger farms and fields.
Until then, anyone needing a small drill, give us a call. We have just the ticket for you. We haven’t come up with a fee schedule yet, but most other counties have drill rentals for between $22 and $30/acre. I would assume this one will fall in that range somewhere. Try no till and save a few billion organisms.
The Bradford County Conservation District is committed to helping people manage resources wisely. You can visit the Bradford County Conservation District at 200 Lake Rd in Wysox across from the Wysox Fire Hall. Contact us at (570) 485-3144 or visit our web page at www.bccdpa.com.
Various staff at the Bradford County Conservation District