When you think of farming, tractors and plows may be the first images to come to mind, but Jason Schuch of Sweet Breeze Farm has traded in his plow and the trade is paying big dividends on their farm.
No-till is when farmers don’t plow or till their fields before planting. This avoids tuning over and loosening the soil, which can make the soil more susceptible to erosion. Schuch says no-till farming is a great way to protect his farm’s topsoil.
Jason is the farm manager of Sweet Breeze Farm, where they've used no-till has been since 1981. Their goal is to maintain the soil and waterways of Holmes County and no-till has been a huge part of their success!
No-till keeps the soil in place, which in turn keeps the nutrients in the soil, preventing it from entering the Holmes County waterways. This keeps any unwanted algae or plants from growing in our waterways, much like what has happened in Lake Erie with their algae blooms or the Gulf of Mexico with their deadzone.
Schuch says using no-till keeps the crop residue on top of the soil, allowing them to build up the organic matter in the soil. Not only is the soil healthier, but it also allows for better water infiltration, which prevents runoff and stopping even more erosion.
Preventing erosion becomes even more real and important when you realize it takes 500 years for an inch of topsoil to form. So it’s even more important we keep the soil in place instead of losing it to erosion and no-till helps with this by keeping the soil from being loose helping to stop it from eroding away.
But farmers thinking of implementing no-till on your farm you have to remember that it takes time and patience to implement no-till farming practices.
“Don’t give up,” Schuch advises, “It takes a while, you can’t try no-till one time, one year and expect it to be perfect. It takes a little practice you have to be persistent with it and it will work.”
So what can you take away from no-till? That’s it’s an effective farming method that will take time and patience, but in the long run saves our soil from erosion so we don’t have to wait five hundred years for a new inch to form.
BREE HOUIN, WEST HOLMES FFA
Bree is a freshman in the West Holmes FFA program, where she competed on the chapter's ag communications team. The team's project focused on improving soil and water health in Holmes County through the Holmes-Grown Conservation media campaign