Sustainable Farming Association

Stockwell on Soil: Logic On Side of Cover Crops & No-Till

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Courtesy of Sustainable Farming Association

While reading this article I noticed #6 in the list includes cover crops and no till. We often talk about the very same benefits discussed in number six, but the important lesson here is the frame. First, the opening or introductory message is NOT about cover crops or soil health. As much as we all love to delve into those topics, the majority of producers do not (I know, hard to believe, but true). For them, such articles and subjects receive the “gloss right over and move on to the next article” treatment. But this subject is much more inviting with a broader base of interest. The second benefit of this approach is it associates no till and cover crops with other cost saving and profit-providing practices. That is a good group with which to be associated. This could be a model for field days, articles, and discussion events.

One last observation, note what is NOT included on the list: heavy tillage and bare fields. To flip things around, one could argue that if you are using no till and covers and looking to boost profitability, no one in their right minds would suggest to you to add tillage and get rid of covers. So why wouldn’t we recommend to heavy tillage and bare field farmers to go to no till and covers in an effort to improve profitability? If avoiding major equipment costs, additional herbicide and fuel costs, and reduced field productivity brought on by increased erosion is the opposite of improving profitability, then wouldn’t we suggest getting rid of expensive tillage equipment and herbicide and fuel costs for the very same purpose of increased profitability?

Either way, this is a good topic from which to introduce cover crops and no till.

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