I recently stumbled upon a cool article about strip-till agriculture. Most folks that might be interested in RethinkAg probably have heard of no-till agriculture, a cool way to directly drill seeds or transplant into a cover cropped or mulched field. As exciting as no-till is, it may not work in every soil and climate.
Mahdi Al-Kaisi at the Southeast Farmpress (twitter:@FarmPress) neatly sums up why strip-till is a great option for farmers in the southeastern US:
Strip-tillage, which creates a soil environment that enhances seed germination, is an alternative to no-till in areas where poorly drained soils are dominant.
As most southerners know, the heavy clay soils we have down here sometimes classify as “poorly drained”:
As Mr. Al-Kaisi indicates, the typical way to implement strip-till farming is with a new tractor implement that incorporates shanks and seeders:
These implements are too expensive for many first-time farmers (myself included) joining the local food movement.
At CEFS Small Farm unit, we replicated strip-till techniques using a small walk-behind BCS tiller, similar to those silly Mantis brand tillers you see on TV. Once tilled, we had a nice clean seedbed to drive a push-seeder down or to transplant into.
At RethinkAg, we advocate incremental improvements on large, established farms as well as radically innovative systems thinking on small, local start-up farms. Strip-till is a useful tool for both applications.
Thanks to @cowgirljesse at the Pearl Snap Ponderings blog for the idea for today’s post.