Semi-Till

Courtesy of Jennfier L.,  Central PA

There is nothing wrong with anti-tillage beliefs; there are a lot of others that feel the same in this industry. Rototilling creates a hardpan, it destroys your soil structure, and burns up your organic matter. Plus, every time you use it, you expose more weed seeds. Now on that note it is the only type of farming I’ve ever practiced because it was the standard on the farms I’ve worked on. It works you just need to take care of your soil, you can’t just take take take.

To avoid compacting the land you just don’t want to walk on your garden beds – make it a rule. Some people use broadforks, not walking on the ground paired with broadforking has allowed some people to abandon tillers – Elliott Coleman is a big proponent of broadforking.

What is often done on a new tracts of land is till, wait for weeds to start germinating, till again, etc. to help flush the seed bank. In place of tilling repeatedly you could go in with a hoe and accomplish a similar thing you just need to time it right depending on the type of hoe you use. Then there’s always the option of cover crops to suppress weeds, or mulching. Each option has it’s pros and cons. In my neck of the woods we have a lot of pasture land and when a piece of pasture is going to be turned into market field it’s often transitioned a year in advance to get it back into shape.