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The Organic No-Till Farming Revolution
High-Production Methods for Small-Scale Farmers
Farming without tilling has long been a goal of agriculture, yet tilling remains one of the most dominant paradigms; almost everyone does it. But tilling kills beneficial soil life, burns up organic matter, and releases carbon dioxide. If the ground could instead be prepared for planting without tilling, time and energy could be saved, soil organic matter increased, carbon sequestered, and dependence on machinery reduced.
The Organic No-Till Farming Revolution is the comprehensive farmer-developed roadmap showing how no-till lowers barriers to starting a small farm, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, increases efficiency and profitability, and promotes soil health. This hands-on manual offers:
- Why roller-crimper no-till methods don’t work for most small farms
- A decision-making framework for the four no-till methods: occulation, solarization, organic mulches grown in place, and applied to beds
- Ideas for starting a no-till farm or transitioning a working farm
- A list of tools, supplies, and sources.
This is the only manual of its kind, specifically written for natural and small-scale farmers who wish to expand or explore chemical-free, regenerative farming methods.
Andrew Mefferd is editor of Growing for Market magazine. He has spent 15 years working on farms, including a year working on a no-till research farm, and 7 years in the research department at Johnny’s Selected Seeds. He consults widely with researchers and farmers on the best greenhouse growing practices, and is the author of The Greenhouse and Hoophouse Grower’s Handbook. He lives and farms in Cornville, Maine.
"The Organic No-Till Farming Revolution will be a game-changer for flower farmers and so many other growers, big or small. The conversational style combined with practical and proven techniques make the no-till methods described in each case study very approachable and replicable. The book emphasizes the many environmental and economic benefits of no-till farming and the fact that you do not need expensive equipment to farm intensively, organically and profitably on a small scale. If you weren't already convinced about the many benefits of organic farming, this thoughtfully written book will undoubtedly persuade you."
Erin Benzakein, author, Floret Farm's Cut Flower Garden
"This book is likely the most practical examination of no-till farming methods since Plowman's Folly. Any farmer looking to reduce—or eliminate—tillage will find fresh ideas in these pages."
Ben Hartman, author, The Lean Farm and The Lean Farm Guide to Growing Vegetables
"Although long considered the gold standard of a sustainable and resilient agriculture, the many practical challenges of organic no-till have limited its use. Mefferd's new book shares a wealth of inspiring stories of innovative small-scale organic growers who have successfully overcome those challenges to reap the benefits of organic no-till on farm and in community."
Laura Lengnick, author, Resilient Agriculture
"Many of the young people I meet who would like to get into farming are discouraged because they don't have money for land and equipment. Andrew Mefferd's new book shows that you don't need a lot of money to get started. No-till farming doesn't require expensive equipment — and it's better for the environment. I hope the case studies he presents here will convince aspiring farmers and established farmers alike to reconsider the necessity of tilling. Let the no-till revolution begin."
Lynn Byczynski, author, The Flower Farmer and Market Farming Success
"The health of our soil is a major player in the success of a more resilient agriculture. The Organic No-Till Farming Revolution is full of practical advice to change the way we grow from the ground up."
Zach Loeks, author, The Permaculture Market Garden
"The only way to produce nutrient-dense food is with healthy soil. With The Organic No-Till Farming Revolution, Andrew Mefferd provides us the template to do just that while being highly profitable. I highly recommend this book."
Gabe Brown, regenerative farmer, rancher and author
"Here is actionable information for farmers who want to increase the amount of no-till growing on their small-scale farm. You don't have to invest in expensive cumbersome machinery or be an enthusiast of permanent no-till everywhere (which is difficult in organic farming) to benefit from some very practical new tricks. Different strategies work for different farms and different crops.
Andrew says in the introduction, "No-till is as much about climate change as it is about soil health as it is about farm profitability". Work on all three at once with these methods. The first part of the book explains the concepts. Mulch grown in place; applied cardboard, deep straw or compost; occultation (tarping) and solarization (clear plastic) are the options covered. The main part of the book consists of in-depth interviews with seventeen farmers about what works for them."
Pam Dawling, Twin Oaks Community, Virginia, author of Sustainable Market Farming and The Year-Round Hoophouse
"Inspiring and practical advice from the front lines of the soil-health revolution."
David R. Montgomery, author, Growing A Revolution: Bringing Our Soil Back To Life
"Andrew has compiled an impressive number, and range, of actual farms making no-till work on their small farms. It's great to hear from so many farmers who are building healthy soil by replacing steel in their fields with organic matter and biology, and are reaping big harvests as a result."
Josh Volk, slowhandfarm.com, author of Compact Farms
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