Final Report for FNE99-269
[This project shows that when you combine no-till with organic agriculture you can wind up with serious pest problems.]
Drew has an organic vegetable farm. He obtained a SARE grant to experiment with a no-till transplanter for use with his cabbages. He hoped to see an increase in yield from using no-till, along with better conservation of soil and moisture, and improved soil organic matter content.
Drew established a cover crop of rye and vetch in the fall of 1998. The following spring he rolled it with a Buffalo stalk chopper, then transplanted cabbages into it. Drew reports that though initial growth was excellent, the cabbages later displayed evidence of nutrient deficiency, which he attributes to the failure of the cover crop to decompose, under the exceptionally dry weather that prevailed over the East Coast during the summer of 1999.
Pests presented a more serious problem. Disturbance of the soil by the no-till planter brought weed seeds to the surface within the rows of cabbages. The weeds caused an even more serious insect problem, by growing so thickly as to shield the cabbages when he sprayed for insect control. The crop never achieved marketable size.