No-till , Nature, and Soil Quality

Dear Sanetters,

I know that no-till technology presents a dilema to some in sustainable
agriculture, particularily those greatly concerned about reducing, if not
eliminating,  pesticides for organic certification or other reasons.   There
is no question, however,  that GOOD no-till management (no-till, like so
many other systems, is often abused and distorted), which should almost
always include cover crops, crop rotation, and animal integration,  works
wonders for soil quality and erosion reduction. One need only consider the
example of Nature to see that tillage is probably the most disruptive and
foreign practice possible in soil management. Here in East, the model of
Nature is the forest floor, a soil system that good no-till management will
begin to mimick after  5 or 6 years.  Doing this completely without
herbicides is a tremendous challenge, one that  our research has only
partially accomplished. Until that goal is realized, I truely believe that
the trade-off between the possible ecosystem disruption of careful herbicide
use and the certain, major  disruption of tillage is positive one. Ask any

To the Health of Your Soil!

Ray R. Weil
Professor of Soil Science
Dept. of Natural Resource Sciences & LA
1103 H.J. Patterson Hall
University of Maryland
College Park, MD 20742

telephone: 301 405 1314
FAX:            301 314 9041
e-mail:  rw17@umail.umd.edu