- Animal Production: feed/forage
- Crop Production: crop rotation, rotary spader tillage tool
- Soil Management: green manures, soil quality/health
The lack of technical knowledge of specific tools has prevented our growers co-op from greatly improving the farm system. The soils on most of our farms in Lake County have heavy, clay subsoil. Improper tillage use, with moldboard plows or rotovators, when soils are too wet have disastrous results. We therefore have great impediments in protecting soil ecology while still providing primary tillage for rotational crops on our sustainable farms. Double digging methods popularized by the French intensive, raised bed approach offer insight into proper primary field tillage. It is our contention that the European agriculture efforts have determined, over the past twenty years of use, that the rotary spader can provide the necessary primary tillage to turn under green manure crops, crop residue, compost and sod aeration without the damage resulting from working in wet soils. Our farm research begins with soil regeneration. The lack of research data in this specific area prevents many other farms from choosing effective solutions. Research on farms is critical to sustainable farm development.
Participating farmers will focus their efforts on providing clear research trials that farmers can base their tillage practices around. Our project goal for this co-op grant research project will be to study a great deal of anticipated values of the Rotary Spader tillage tool with primary intent to fully disclose all the short term and long term effects on soil ecology this tool provides in direct comparison to the moldboard plow and rototiller. We, as a number of farms with greatly varying soil types, drainage, etc., expect to compile supporting documentation as to the values in primary tillage this tool can offer. Funding to purchase a Spader small enough to allow tractors of 15-20 HP range will provide clear trial documentation that small family farms with small tractors can allow their sustainable methods the necessary technology to improve soil ecology. This research will also provide a study on farms which can explore the Spader's various uses. The data collected will provide the first real documentation in this country on the biggest advancement in sustainable agriculture involving soil tillage and its restoration. As many of our small farms evolve with urban sprawl around them, there will be an increased demand to recycle soil wastes. Landfill dumping now prohibits yard wastes or any other compostable material from burial in the state of Ohio. The use of the Rotary Spader and its value as a compost/soil builder may provide great help with this problem.
Project objectives from proposal:
- To conduct side-by-side comparison of Rotary Spader Tillage tool against moldboard plow and rototiller.
- To document performance of Rotary Spader in root crops, forage crops, grain crops, etc.
- To conduct an earthworm study to help short-term and long-term effects of the Rotary Spader on earthworm populations and soil ecology.