Our rye grass and clover mixed winter pastures are already looking good!
We’re also now preparing more soil and planting wheat and barley (cash crops), and also oats (for feed) by a no-till or zero tillage technique which is part of the practice of conservation agriculture. It is a way of growing annual crops without disturbing the soil, unlike traditional forms of agriculture that use tillage (with ploughs and other implements) to prepare the soil for planting. Although this sounds all “new”, the concept of no-till agriculture is nothing new. It’s been utilized since man first scratched the earth and dropped in seeds. The ancient Egyptians, the Sumerians, and the Incas of South America used sticks to poke holes in the ground and put seeds into unprepared soil by hand and then covered the seeds with their feet. That’s no-till agriculture at its simplest.
No-till farming most closely mimics the natural soil conditions compared to other methods of farming. The soil is left undisturbed apart from where the seeds are placed which preserves the soil.
This technique also increases the amount of water that infiltrates into the soil and increases organic matter retention and cycling of nutrients in the soil. In many agricultural regions it can eliminate soil erosion. It increases the amount and variety of life in and on the soil, including disease-causing organisms and disease suppression organisms. The most powerful benefit of no-tillage is improvement in soil biological fertility, making soils more resilient. Farm operations are made much more efficient, particularly improved time of sowing and better trafficability of farm operations.