New Approach to a Countryside Tradition

Farm field

Last year's corn residue protects soil in an untilled field.

If you have a keen eye and are of a certain vintage, you may notice farmers are changing how they manage their land. For generations, plowing the land after fall harvest was the golden rule. Now, you’re more likely to see corn and soybean fields left unplowed with crop residue scattered on the soil surface. But why?
 
An evolving understanding of soil health and advancements in farm machinery are changing how farmers sow their crops. Many farmers now use no-till seeding to seed directly through crop residue. Crop residue helps soils retain moisture and build structure. It also preserves precious topsoil by protecting it against erosion caused by wind and water runoff. Farmers report seeing an increase in crop yields and the presence of worms and other beneficial critters after making the switch.

While this approach enhances the long-term sustainability of the farm business, it also offers short-term economic benefits. No-till farming requires fewer steps and machinery passes, which reduces fuel costs (and fuel emissions) and saves time.

Although agricultural practices continue to change, farming remains an embedded watershed tradition. Adopting a no-till approach hasn’t been easy. There are societal pressures to continue with familiar approaches, and re-tooling machinery can be expensive. Different strategies are required for adding fertilizer, controlling weeds, and seeding. But despite the challenges they’ve faced, farmers remain committed to adopting new approaches that benefit their land and our environment.

Let’s talk crops!

Connect with our agricultural outreach coordinator to discuss soil health on your farm at 416-294-7335 or [email protected].

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