No Disturbance

No Till

Traditionally farmers till the ground each year to prepare the soil for planting. This practise kills soil life, exposes the soil the the sun and over time will drain your soil of nutrients and increase compaction. Nature doesn’t till, so we don’t either.

Tilling breaks up soil aggregates and causes opportunistic microbes to burn through existing carbon. It increases compaction, breaks fungal hyphae, exposes microbial life to the sun and air and will make your soils worse over time, and make them require tilling to function properly. Tilling once to establish a new bed is sometimes useful, but it should absolutely not be a part of your longterm fertility strategy.

Breaking Soil Aggregates

Tilling breaks up soil aggregates, the clumps of soil particles held together by organic matter and microbial activity. These aggregates are crucial for maintaining soil structure, water infiltration, and root growth. When soil aggregates are broken, the soil becomes more prone to erosion and compaction, reducing its ability to support healthy plant growth.

Disruption of Microbial Communities

Soil is home to a diverse array of microbes, including bacteria, fungi, and other microorganisms that play essential roles in nutrient cycling and plant health. Tilling disrupts these microbial communities by breaking fungal hyphae, the thread-like structures of fungi that help plants absorb nutrients. This disruption not only reduces the beneficial relationships between plants and microbes but also exposes microbial life to harmful sunlight and air, leading to a decline in microbial diversity and activity.

Loss of Soil Carbon

When soil is tilled, opportunistic microbes rapidly consume existing soil organic matter, releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. This process, known as carbon mineralization, depletes soil carbon reserves, which are essential for maintaining soil fertility and structure. The loss of soil carbon contributes to the decline in soil health and increases greenhouse gas emissions.

Increased Soil Compaction

Contrary to the belief that tilling loosens soil, it actually increases soil compaction over time. The repeated mechanical action of tilling compresses soil particles, reducing pore space and limiting root growth. Compacted soil has poor water infiltration and drainage, leading to waterlogging and reduced oxygen availability for plant roots.

Other Stuff We’re Doing

Check out some other stuff we’ve been working on.

    Mimicking how a forest works, we aim to produce food using woody perennials and agroforestry principles. Functioning food forests have been discovered that are over 150 years old.

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    Keeping a large amount of biomass (straw, grass, wood chips, etc) on top of the soil retains moisture, suppresses weeds and slowly breaks down building soil with lots of organic material. We also grow edible mushrooms in the mulch of all our garden beds.

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