In our corresponding video, I caught up with Roger Garrett in Scott County Virginia, to explain the importance of using these tools when growing for wholesale markets.
“We do it because honestly, it just makes it so much easier.”Roger Garrett
Roger started out by first plowing his field that didn’t have any cover crops on it this past winter. The soil was very compacted. As we talked about in our previous blog and video, some cover crops will help break up your soil and thus reduce your time on the tractor. He then disc’ed the field to help break up the large clumps of dirt and to make it easier on his tiller. Lastly, he tilled the soil in preparation for his field for laying down black plastic and planting.
Some of the benefits of tilling include creating a desirable seedbed, soil conditioning, land forming, pulling weeds out from the soil, and the separation of rocks and root clumps. One of the biggest benefits of tilling is getting your soil ready for laying down black plastic mulch. Black plastic mulch is a great way to help manage weeds & disease keeps your produce clean, warms the soil, and helps keeps moisture in place.
If there is not enough soil to be kicked up over the sides of the plastic, you will need to go back and till again.
Now, plowing, discing and tilling can have negative impacts on your soil; such as loss of organic matter, releasing of nitrogen, compaction, soil erosion, and reduced infiltration rates. However, these factors can be offset by organic inputs such as manures and compost, as well as your crop rotation and use of cover crops. If you’re using a field for the first time, it’s highly recommended that you take the time to use these tools. As Roger mentioned, if you’re going to go out and set 10,000 plants, you will be spending a long time trying to plant into the ground that hasn’t been previously worked.