You Can Leave the Rototiller in the Barn Next Spring If You Start Planning Now

For many vegetable farmers and gardeners, there’s something supremely satisfying about a cleanly tilled field in spring. It represents a new beginning. The weeds haven’t started growing yet, the soil is fluffy, and it’s easy to put seeds and transplants in the ground. Despite the short-term benefits of tillage that can help vegetable crops grow, tillage takes a toll on soil health by destroying soil aggregates, making soil susceptible to erosion, compacting subsoil, and “burning up” organic matter. The more you till a soil, the more it needs tillage to get back to that temporary fluffy state. Targeted use of cover crops can break this cycle of tillage, creating windows for no-till production that can rebuild soil health over time. For the last three years, we’ve had success at the University of Maryland and with participating farmers with no-till seeding early vegetables like spinach, peas, and beets into a winterkilled forage radish (Raphanus sativus L.) cover crop without the use of herbicides. The inspiration for this work came from previous research on forage radish in agronomic systems that showed its roots have the ability to penetrate

All the grazing management tips you need

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