No Till: Some reasons not to plow pt. 1

I’ve been planning on using a “No Till” system of farming for a while now.  There are a few economic reasons.  There are also a few reasons based on soil care.

I own a tractor.  It’s not running right now, but even if it were, I wouldn’t use it to till.

It costs too much.

  1. First I would put gas in the tank to plow.
  2. Then I would put gas in the tank to disk.
  3. Then I would most likely need to run the tractor again to put in corrugates.
  4. Oh, I don’t have a plow, disks or a corrugator and they’d each cost more than my tractor.
  5. I would also need a big irrigation system, because plowed ground sucks up (and gives away) a lot of water.

It’s simply uneconomical to run a tractor for so little acreage.  I’d never make a profit.

But let’s say I inherited all of the equipment I would need.  Maybe there’s an irrigation system already in place.  Maybe I’m getting subsidies and they cover using the fuel to work the land.

The costs will continue to climb.

As I use the soil, it’s going to lose fertility.  I’m going to grow and harvest from it and take away the fruits.  This means the nutrients aren’t getting plugged back in.  Also, the irrigating that I do will wash nutrients out, pushing them further in the soil.

There are a couple things I can do.  One thing is crop rotation.  I can grow alfalfa.  It will put nitrogen back into the soil. (more about this later)  The issue there is that I have to buy some more implements.  I won’t have the proper tool to seed the field with alfalfa and I’d have to pay someone to cut the alfalfa and bale it.  More expenses.  Not worth it to bale just a few acres.

Alfalfa isn’t a panacea either.  It doesn’t put back all the other nutrients I’ve used or washed away.

One solution is inputs.  I can lay fertilizer down.  To do this right, I need soil tests done, so I can make sure I get what’s needed.  Then I buy more equipment or pay someone to spread the fertilizer that didn’t come for free.

I’m going to address some other reasons for not till in the next couple posts.  I think there’s a better way to go.  Actually, I think it’s imperative that we stop tilling and find no till systems.  I don’t mean just small farms either.



Leave a Reply