zero till; top soil; fertility; drought and no micro-organisms

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zero till with no top soil, no fertility, drought, no rainfall and no micro-organisms is no solution

We announced the drought to Radio 4

that has foiled the success of so many crops across the UK one month before it was announced on Radio 4 Farming Today.      Not only has the severe lack of rain been responsible it is the fact the these fields have no top soil with which to hold moisture. Also the nutrients required are unable to form and stabilise in the soil due to the gross negligence of Micro-organisms that do this work.  These organisms are killed by Round up, the universal weed killer from Monsanto.  I visited a farm on the other side of Shenley, where our offices are and it was quite a different story. This farmer had had a good crop and right after the harvest he planted a cover crop of mustard. This will mature to about 4 feet high and then he will spray it with roundup. His new seed drill-cum-roller crimper will flatten the mustard and he will direct drill into the ground his next crop., but there is no need to spray with roundup. If he did stop using roundup he would be managing the soil in an organic way. This practise will suffice very niceley for a grain crop. One thing though….I suggested an alternative:  instead of a two implement pass to get this land ready for planting better to use one pass using the angled disc harrow. This means setting the wheels so they make a furrow between every two discs. This is the ideal way of sheet composting in a smaller crop of say mustard etc., (annual) which will then combine with the carbon of the straw stubble and the annual cover crop (mustard) making small ridges of composting waste! Adding HH-4 to this FIRST would be even better as it will be adding the catalyst for breaking down the carbon/nitrogen crops. HH-4 can easily be made on a farm scale and would be a better solution for tillage when a change of crop is required in a rotation. Thus a much higher nutrient level can be achieved for a vegetable rotation.

Buy now: Volcanic rock dust

zero till with weed killer is too little too late and has spelt disaster here over hundreds of acres.

Further reading

100 years later… Farming Today

Some of the principles that Howard wrote about 100 years ago are just being talked about in this broadcast of Farming Today. From the Groundswell

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