November is for Drilling not for Tilling
For the past 5 years the No Till November movement has promoted soil health practices through no till farming. Loosely based on the "No Shave November" movement, farmers are encouraged to give their farm a rugged natural look each fall by resisting the urge to till soils through intensive farming practices. Decades of research point to no till farming as a solution to reduce erosion, nutrient loss, save fuel, reduce labor, and more recently have shown to mitigate the effects of green house gases.
Oftentimes, farmers say that "no till doesn't mean no erosion" while this may be correct, the effects are noticeably far less. No till fields often have focused areas of erosion rather than cases of widespread water and wind erosion that completely engulf conventionally tilled fields. Long term use of no till has proven to increase nutrient density in topsoil layers, out of the rootzone. We know the first step to solving a problem is admitting there is one, thankfully the same science that shows the benefits of no till also identifies its issues. Researchers are working hard to address these concerns while not disrupting the fragility of the no till system. All signs indicate the "missing link" to no till could be the addition of cover crops. Virtually hundreds of species are available, all providing different benefits. From providing soil fumigation, habitat for beneficial insects, breaking up compaction, to simply stopping erosion, there is a cover crop for everyone.
This November we challenge all farmers to explore new practices and park the tillage equipment this fall.
Don't know where to begin? Here is a list of resources than can help your farm get started in cover crops.
SARE Cover Crop Research
USDA Risk Management Agency offers cover croppers insurance discounts
Ohio State University Agronomic Crops Network