Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Organic no-till agriculture will save the world!

A story in the Christian Science Monitor about no-till organic agriculture caught my eye:

New way to farm boosts climate, too

Once I've established my raised or terraced beds (a muddy job that I'm currently devoting a couple of hours a day on--as much as my arthritis will allow), I follow an organic no-till method on a micro-scale. This is my first year up here in zone 5, but the parts of the garden that I didn't make into a cold frame were covered in leaves. This fall, I'll plant a cover crop that I can just knock down, use as mulch, or rake away. I'm a little worried about seeds becoming weeds in my planting area, but I figure using Mort's method of weed control (water, rake, wait, repeat) will help. Plus, I'll be adding manure and compost on top of last years soil, so that will help too.

If a cover crop is too much work, I recommend just covering your whole garden in layers of manure and straw. The worms will do a lot of the "tilling" for you, coming up to get the decomposing organic matter which they eat as they tunnel back down, leaving pathways for water to get deep into the spongy soil they leave behind.

In this article, the guys who developed the tractor attachment discovered the process by accident, as doing this kind of thing on a large scale is a whole different animal than what we small scale home gardeners have been doing for a long time now. As far as reducing one's carbon footprint goes, gardening at home is hard to beat. The only oil used is to get the seeds and manure to my house. No tractors. No trucks full of food. Just a big garden full of fresh vegies waiting for me to go out and pick! And, it forces me to do my garden yoga exercises!

It is good to see these farmers doing their best to help the world, though. The fact that this method stops runoff and topsoil erosion is enough to make me want to support it. The carbon sequestering is a bonus!

No comments: