This module covers everything we do to create and maintain our permanent no till beds at Prana Farm.
No Till: Strictly speaking, there is no way to avoid tillage as a farmer. Tilling is the act of preparing the land for seeding or planting. This includes the plow on every seeder, raking beds to smooth them, and even using your fingers to dig and make holes for transplanting. Thus No Till is really about reduced soil disturbance and making your best effort to keep soil layers intact. For me, the removal of heavy equipment, like a BCS or Tractor that stirs, tills, or plows any deeper than the top surface layer of tilth satisfies the impossible goal of No-Till. Beyond my farm, I accept any farmers definition as I want to be as inclusive as possible so feel free to try any practice that works for you.
Efficiency – I initially designed the Prana No Till systems because it was easier to not till than to till. What I also discovered was that we gained huge time and cost savings as a result and that ultimately production has also dramatically increased.
Transforming a pasture to ground that you can start growing on. I discuss the various methods possible and what I learned after trying them all.
I like black plastic the best for killing all of my grass (which for some reason I keep calling switch grass, ugh). The plastic must be on the ground for a long time in the Southern Tablelands to kill everything.
The tractor , scraping, method works but you need a lot of top soil because you’ll need to scrape a few inches off to get the perennials. You’ll still need to pull a lot by hand afterwards.
There is also a method of plowing and discing. This method will only kill some of the perennials which will come back with a vengeance. I do not recommend this way, especially if you plan on being no till.
- Silage Tarps sized to your area work really well
- But you can also use black sheeting 6mil from a place like home depot but it will only last a couple of seasons
Rocks – Remove all of them, whenever you can. Everything needs to be part of a system, including the removal of rocks. Find something on your farm that you just want done without you asking for it to done every time. As I cover task tickets in the next lesson, you will see how I make something like removing rocks part of a bigger system.
Raising a bed is more work to create and maintain. Make sure that the benefits of it out-weigh that work.
Why I am no till. When I started farming, it was with a BCS two wheel tractor. Once I figured out that is wasn’t efficient for me, we got rid of the tiller and I started to create the Prana No Till system. What I quickly learned that it was much easier to maintain my living soil with these systems.
Mulching Paths – is problematic. It increases voles and mice as well as increased management and labor costs.
Creating and Measuring the Beds – Our permanent bed system is central to our efficient methods of growing. It is has saved so much time and works. Here I discuss why and how we make permanent beds. I lay them out once and then leave them in place.
Standardizing our work begins with sizing our beds and the larger units in our field that contain beds. In a permanent bed system this becomes even more important.