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No-Till methods of Food Production

No-Till methods of Food Production

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No-Till methods of Food Production

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  1. No-Till methods of Food Production Natural Farming, Layer Cake Gardening, Small-scale Organic No-till

  2. Masanobu Fukuoka • Lived 1913-2008 in Japan • Trained in Plant Pathology • Wanted to Farm in a way that mimicked nature • Author of The One Straw Revolution, The Natural Way of Farming, and The Road Back to Nature

  3. 4 Principles of Natural Farming • No Cultivation • No Fertilizer • No Weeding • No Pesticides

  4. Rice/Barley Succession • Rice grown May-October • Barley Grown October-May • Done without Tilling, flooding of fields, and fertilizers • Matched or exceeded yields of highly mechanized neighbors • Did not ask “what more can I do?”, but instead “what can I not do?”

  5. Rice/Barley Succession • Barley broadcast a couple of weeks before Rice harvest with White Clover (nitrogen source) • Rice Harvested, and straw spread back on field • Thin layer of chicken manure (nitrogen source) spread to help decompose straw (carbon source) • In December, rice for following year broadcast in clay pellets • Barley harvested in May and straw spread on emerging rice seedlings and clover • Thin layer of chicken manure (nitrogen source) spread to help decompose straw (carbon source)

  6. Fukuoka’s vegetable experiments • Broadcast vegetable seeds in his citrus orchard next to the trees amidst clover • Planted spring plants as winter weeds began to die, and fall plants as summer weeds began to die • His vegetables outcompeted weeds if planted with cover crop • Every season, he let a certain percentage of plants go to seed • Plants in the same species cross-pollinated with each other • Vegetables “re-wilded” themselves

  7. Advantages/Disadvantages • Advantages • Method teaches us to think outside the box • Emphasis on observing environment and mimicking natural systems • Less work • Straw recycles nutrients and suppresses weeds • Disadvantages • His methods for grains and vegetables not universal • Need plenty of rainfall and fertile soil • Vegetable method more of an experiment (wife still had traditional kitchen garden) • Rice impractical in Texas • Resilient weeds (Bermuda & Johnson Grass) • Japan’s climate much different than Waco

  8. A Central Texas grain succession • Using Fukuoka’s system, what type of succession would work in this climate? • Winter • Wheat, Barley or Rye with a type of clover or vetch • Summer • To be honest, I don’t know what would work • 3 sisters? • Cowpeas? • Buckwheat? • Sorghum?

  9. Layer Cake Gardening • Salamander Springs Farm in Berea, KY • Adapted, simpler version of Sheet Mulch Gardening and Lasagna Gardening

  10. 3 Layers • Bottom Layer- Cardboard, old feed bags • Middle Layer- thin layer of compost or manure • Top Layer (icing)- rotted hay, leaves, or similar carbon source • Layers are left to compost for 3 months before planting

  11. Advantages/Disadvantages • Advantages • Not labor intensive • No equipment needed • Cardboard suppresses weeds • Disadvantages • Requires planning ahead and patience • Some want immediately raised beds

  12. Neal Curran’s Method • Beds solarized with clear plastic • Fall cover crop planted • Usually a legume or a legume with a grain • Popular examples include Hairy Vetch/Rye, Crimson Clover/Oats • Cover crops overwinter and put on rapid growth in spring and are crimped or cut at flowering stage • Spring crops are transplanted into cover crop residue • Same method can be used for summer cover crops to fall vegetables • Another cover crop or vegetable bed should be planted after harvest to beat the next set of weeds

  13. Advantages/Disadvantages • Advantages • Cost effective • No initial compost needed • Nitrogen source + Weed Suppression + habitat for beneficial insects • Disadvantages • Requires a lot of planning and proper timing • Early season crops and direct seeded plants cannot be easily grown in thick mulch • In Texas, weeds will eventually grow through cover crop mulch

  14. Common Threads • Green Manures and Cover Crops • Creative weed suppression • If you don’t have a rototiller or tractor, you have options