Organic No-Till


No-till farming techniques have gained great popularity over the past two decades as growers seek new ways to protect and conserve their soil and save time and money. No-till production allows farmers to save all three because it reduces or eliminates the need to till fields for planting or weed cultivation. However, while these practices can effectively meet farmers’ soil conservation and work reduction goals, they rely on herbicides for weed control, and as such, cannot be directly adopted for use in organic production systems.

The question has been how to make the benefits of no-till accessible to organic farmers and how to free conventional farmers from the expensive and toxic chemicals. Organic no-till is based on sound biological principles and mechanical cover-crop kill, making it possible to reduce and even eliminate tillage.

Rodale Institute researchers have been identifying and refining organic no-till or reduced-till techniques that can meet farmers’ needs to improve soil and reduce labor while using tools other than herbicides to manage weeds. In organic systems, one of the best tools to manage weeds is cover crops, and this has proven to be true for organic no-till systems as well.

One of the key elements of our organic no-till research is a front-mounted cover-crop roller that knocks down a weed-suppressing mat that can be planted through all in one quick pass.

Learn more about our other weed management techniques being studied at Rodale Institute by visiting Weed Management.