This question came in via our contact form, but the sender’s email address was not valid, so I decided I’d post it here in the hopes that she returns to our site again but also because it may be an issue that others have wondered about. So here it is:
I am very much interested in organic farming and supporting those who grow organically. However I also like to make sure that the farms that are growing my food are making sure to take care of the soil that they use. I was wondering how your farm ensures that there is little to no top soil loss. How do you take care of the land when you are done with a crop, do you till? If you do till how do you ensure that their is no top soil loss?
Thank you for your help with these questions. I look forward to
hearing back from you. Patricia
And, my response:
Thank you for contacting us. We just put the comment feature on the site and it’s great that it’s already proving helpful.
We strive to maintain good soil health and fertility since it’s the backbone of the operation. First, I should say that we are a new farm, going into our third growing season. We have not yet had to amend the soil since it is an old dairy and nutrient levels were extremely high when we started cropping in 2009. Since then, we have applied, when feasible, rye and vetch as a cover crop. Since we farm year-round, there are always portions of our field that are still in a crop – and therefore bare – or that had a crop harvested after October 1, which is the latest you can seed a cover crop for the winter.
Top soil really doesn’t move around a lot on our farm. Drainage is excellent so there’s not a lot of run-off and the organic matter is so high, and the soil relatively heavy, that it doesn’t blow around either.
We are tilling once in all fields just before seeding or transplanting, but after that we use discs and other tools to cultivate. There are pieces of equipment out there that can prepare the ground better than a tiller, but we don’t have any of them yet.
In addition to the green manures, we will be using a mixture of chicken manure and straw that is composted before it is applied to the fields, to continue to give back and build up the soils.
Thanks for your interest and let me know if you have any additional questions.