Is tillage a problem for organic farming?
It’s time for your report on the Farm of the Future. I am Tim Hammerich.
Certified organic farmers often have to incorporate tillage to compensate for chemical tools they are not allowed to use. Does this mean that organic farming is not compatible with building healthy soil?
Silva… “There are other means of prevention that organic farmers use: diversified crop rotations, cover crops. And many of the strategies we know now are fundamental to improving soil health in general. So when we look at the big picture, we also adopt a lot of strategies that we know contribute to soil health. So when we look at the five principles of soil health, organic really affects most, if not all, depending on the system and the strategies farmers adopt. “
This is Erin Silva, assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She says organic farming was founded on healthy soil principles and is helping farmers find ways to reduce soil disturbance where possible.
Silva… “In organic farming, the use of herbicides is quite limited. There are biologically approved herbicides, but due to their effectiveness and cost, they are used very rarely. Thus, one of the weed management strategies in organic systems is tillage. Either a primary tillage before planting or cultivation, which also disturbs the soil.
Silva said many organic farmers also incorporate livestock for weed control and soil health.