- Vegetables: cucurbits
- Crop Production: conservation tillage, cropping systems
- Education and Training: demonstration, farmer to farmer, on-farm/ranch research, youth education
- Farm Business Management: apprentice/intern training
- Pest Management: cultivation, mulches - killed, weed ecology
- Production Systems: organic agriculture
- Soil Management: organic matter, soil quality/health
- Sustainable Communities: sustainability measures
Small-scale vegetable farmers who are interested in organic production are continually seeking cost-effective and
practical management practices that conserve soil, reduce labor, and increase the profitability and sustainability of
their livelihood. Preliminary results of a demonstration trial at Rodale Institute in 2016 showed that using no-till low
input technology has the potential to conserve soil and sustain vegetable production. Quiet Creek Farm owners
John and Aimee Good grow organic produce for a 250 member CSA and are interested in cost effective
management systems that reduce their dependence on frequent cultivations to conserve soil and ensure high
yields. The Goods are partnering with Rodale Institute to compare side-by-side the impacts of using a low-input
no-till system, a high-input no-till system and bare ground (standard farmers’ practice) management systems.
They are interested in gaining knowledge and experience in using a roller-crimper to determine the feasibility and
effectiveness of no-till low-input technology for soil and weed management in an organic system. Similar
treatments will be compared within existing field trials at Rodale Institute. In the Rodale trial, the low-input no-till
system will be compared to high-input no-till and plasticulture (standard farmers’ practice) systems. In all trials, we
will assess soil health, weed biomass and density, crop yield and feasiblity. Results will be shared with growers
and interested clientele through Rodale’s Annual On-Farm Field Day, a web article, and presentations at grower
Project objectives from proposal:
The overarching goal of this project is to demonstrate low-input approaches that are affordable to small-scale and
low-capital beginner organic vegetable farmers to improve crop productivity and quality and conserve soil from degradation.
We propose a one-year project to address the following questions:
1) How effective is a low-input no-till technology system on conserving soil in comparison to standard farmers’
practices (bare ground with multiple seasonal cultivations and black plastic) and high-input no-till technology?
2) Will the low-input no-till technology system improve crop productivity relative to standard farmer’s practice?
3) How effective are the proposed managment practices in managing weed pressure measured as weed density,
weed biomass, and their relationship to yield?
The specific objectives of this project are to:
1) Demonstrate that low-input no-till technology can be used effectively as a soil and weed management system
by reducing cultivation and conserving soil;
2) Compare costs and benefits of using low-input and high-input no-till technologies on crop yield and nutrient
3) Transfer this knowledge to small-scale, beginner vegetable farmers.