Wednesday, February 24, 2016
Zero-till becomes the norm worldwide
Farmers across the globe are parking up their big machinery and moving to a system that gets nature to cultivate their soil for them. Instead of steel and diesel they use worms and biology to do the work for them. They save a huge amount of fuel and other costs and get yields which are equal to those they were getting before. Unfortunately the UK farming establishment remains wedded to fighting nature with chemicals and steel.
This USDA graph shows just how far no-till has progressed in the USA
Over the past four years I have reported on dozens of farmers who have made the change to zero-till. They include people farming 4,000 acres as well as 100, people with heavy land in Essex and Scotland, on Cotswold brash, in wet West Wales and dry Kent and Essex. One 4,000ac contributor saves enough in diesel alone to buy a new Range Rover each year and is getting better yields than ever. He'd very much like a better price for his wheat, but can still make a margin on what he's being paid.
Maryland and Delaware largely drain into Chesapeake Bay, which some years ago was a soup of farm pollution. State and federal incentives have resulted in half the acreage in these states now under no-till and the water quality in the bay is improving as a result.
It's regrettable that so little has been done to help UK farmers learn about this exciting agri development which is now is used on 154 million hectares across the globe.
Virtually all the info about zero-till and soil conservation is coming from farmers - there's very little from agri colleges, little from the media, which depends on advertising from machinery.
"Editorial has included articles on soil management for the past three years in a section called Soil+ Cover Cropping International," explains Mike, "and in this issue the lead article is 'Start Simple with Cover Crops' and the article provides the farmer with a cropping strategy which builds soil condition at least cost."
There's another section on making and using compost on the farm, including how to build your own compost tea machine.
Looking after natural pollinators, using environmental grants to support the farm instead of cropping, and growing herbage mixtures are also featured.
Aims and Purpose
1. Promotion of low-cost farming
- share useful tips and ideas that save money
- maximise use of assets
- protection of farm soil, building fertility and condition, erosion control
2. Lifting farmers' business knowledge
- financial - budgets, performance
- forecasting, measuring and controlling risk
- legal - company structure, succession
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Best wishes, Mike Donovan, editor
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