Intensive tillage undermines soil health and erosion control, yet is commonly used on most organic vegetable farms to manage weeds. In light of more extreme weather events leading to wind and water erosion and difficult growing conditions, farmers need to consider reduced tillage and cover crops to preserve soil health.
Continuous No-Till Practices:
- increase carbon sequestration
- water storage capacity
- organic matter
- soil structure while reducing carbon erosion
- nutrient runoff
- costs for fuel and nutrient inputs
No Till Trial at Grow: Johnson County:
In an effort to adopt more climate resilient practices, Grow: Johnson County will dedicate 1 acre of land to a no-till vegetable production trial for 3 years (2023-2025).
During this trial, various cover crop and cash crop combinations will be assessed by measuring yield, labor, pest control, and soil health outcomes. The data will be compared to organic tillage production methods that include roto-tillage, cultivation, fertilizer inputs, and cover crops. The results of this trial will be made available to the public through reports on this webpage and annual field days.
What to Expect:
Each year, we will publish a short fact sheet and host a field day to demonstrate practices. At the end of 3 years (in 2025), we will create a summary report with visuals to show our trial results. Additionally, Iowa Valley RC&D wants other farmers to feel empowered to try out no-till vegetable production through a cover crop seed cost-share program.
No-Till Vegetable Cost Share Program:
Like any new practice, using no-till for vegetable production has a learning curve and potential reduced productivity until you figure out what works best for your operation. To help with the financial risk, we are offering up to a $500 cost share annually to 10 Iowa vegetable growers.
What can the stipends cover?
- cover crop seed, plant starts, soil tests, mulch, and new equipment
*Proof of purchase will be required to receive reimbursement
- Applicants must operate a vegetable farm established for at least two years
- Own or rent land in Iowa
- Preference would be given to historically underserved individuals (BIPOC, women, veterans, etc)
If you are interested in learning more about this project, please reach out to Claire Zabel.
The Spring 2023 No Till Stipend application process is closed, we will reopen applications at a later date.