Jim, I have some questions about your recent comments about no-till. Last year we had a couple of fields get off to a slow start and were concerned about compaction but as season progressed corn came around not great corn but best ever on that particular field. I understand I have to do a better job with my cover crops and have taken steps to do so. Extension did a survey of soil health last year and our farm had the highest amount of worm activity now in a no-till biological process isn't this what helps water and air filtration? On another field that has been noted for poor drainage in the past we had a 5" rain event (unusual for Maine) and yet a day and a half later we were harvesting this field. I feel I have a lot more to learn and it seems the more I learn the more confused I get! Anyway, may God Bless and keep you in good health. Dick Perkins Alfaslopes Farms Charleston, Maine
I would be real curious to know how they measured the worm population. Lots of old timers is not impressive for me.
Unfortunately earthworms are not able to address the needs for transporting enough water fast enough to take care of a seriously heavy rain event in a no-till field. They help but the research is showing that the root systems that end up in a burrow never get attached to the soil. Water goes down the burrow and doesn’t actually wet the soil where the microbes could use it and the air exchange is limited to that in the burrow.
I’m afraid there has been a romantic story told and only a small part of it is true. I have seen massive evidence that the use of the CurseBuster will actually increase the effectiveness of the earthworms far more than doing no tillage. One problem is that the new roots tend to follow the old root channels which is where there is lots of disease. Researchers are now discovering that disease pressure is worse in no-till soils. Part of it is because the roots grow in the cemetery.
Lots of times people get back on no-till fields in good time because a lot of the water actually ran off the field. Nobody gets out their shovel to see how deep the soil is actually wet. My hunch is that with a 5” event a lot of it hit the ditch and streams.
REAL vehicle support comes from the shape and size of root systems. The fact is that the root systems that grow in no-till do not lend support to wheel traffic because they are built wrong.
Compare the root system in the pdf presentations on the website to those in your no-till fields.
Your roots will be shallower and flatter.
Running the CurseBuster creates lots of new places to grow roots in new locations with proper shape or configuration. It doesn’t take long before the traffic has no impact on structure created by these types of root systems. This is totally missed by the no-till advocates. Over the years the roots get flatter and flatter and more diseased.
I have no dispute with the value of cover crops but they aren’t going to do anymore than the regular crops if they are no-tilled in. You can spend a lot of money and not gain much until you get some roots under them. Masons have sequestered more carbon than any place else I have ever found. They have never planted a cover crop. They only return plant materials to their fields after they have passed thru their cows.The nature of the decomposition of old roots and the amount of root mass is what builds soil active carbon content.
Always remember that a vertical discer tool doesn’t go deep enough to address the soil structural problem created by the movement of water that is causing the water to perch in the top 3" or so of the plow layer and eventually run off the farm. That's what makes the trenches in the hollers and wet spots in the low ground. Don’t get caught by the VT hype.
Got to get some sleep. God Bless and thanks for the Blessing.