On November 14th I attended the Quivira Conference of 2014. The conference is held every year at different locations with different speakers that talk about their role in farming and how you can improve your farm or our case our smaller proportion DOT garden. During this conference we listened to 3 different speakers, but one of them caught my eye; it was titled:Soil is Life, Tillage is Death: A Future with No-Till Vegetable Agriculture. This presentation was brought to us by a garden called the “Singing Frogs”. This lecture taught us about the importance of not tilling and having healthy soil in your farm or garden. Before I continue I would like to explain what tilling is it is the process of flipping stuff over so the stuff on the bottom will be exposed, this is done to prepare the land for new crops. Us at Albuquerque Academy even did an act quite similar when we flipped over the soil from old crops in one of our raised beds to prepare it for a new crop. When we did this however was it the right decision? Well according to the “Singing Frogs” farm this was a very bad decision as it is destructive to the soil and should be removed. They even went as far to say that “Soil is Life” and tilling is not going to improve the health of the soil so therefore life will fade as well.
Actually soil without Tilling is proven to be a lot more effective than with tilling, this is because when you grow a crop the soil it is living in is getting more nutrients and it is getting stronger, but when you are tilling you are ripping all of those nutrients apart and your soil is back to where it started and you have no gained anything. The bigger benefits of this as shown in the “Singing Frogs” farm is they could actually grow way more crops in a row than any of their surrounding farms, even though their weather was colder. They also never had to weed, which i think is absolutely phenomenal! They didn’t have a problem with pests, and even didn’t have to water as often. This solves so many problems because, a. This means we can all use less water because soil that has not been tilled is actually better at absorbing water. B. Sine there is not a weed/pests problem there is no use for toxic chemicals that we would usually use to kill the weeds and/or pests. These Toxic chemicals not only kill the weed and/or pests but also damage the soil and the plant surrounding. One way we can successfullyget some of these benefits are by planting a diverse kind of plants in one bed so that the soil gets a combination of different nutrients besides just lettuce for example. Another Technique is to use hedge as they do at “Singing Frogs” farms this prevents soil from erosion and it provides warmth and pollinators.
We can apply some of these into our DOT garden at our very own school! We already have a good start with our raised beds but maybe in the future we can add some different crops to the same bed and see if it has any beneficial outcomes.