Weed 'Em and Reap Part 2: Reduced tillage strategies for vegetable cropping systems [DVD]. A. Stone. 2006. Oregon State University Dept. of Horticulture. Corvallis, Oregon. Available at: http://www.weedemandreap.org (verified 17 Dec 2008).
Ron Morse. Virginia Tech. Blacksburg, VA.
The first source of fertility is derived from our bi-culture cover crops. The second source would be a side dressing of feather meal or soybean meal. The third nutrient source is our liquid fertilizers, like Neptune’s Harvest that we inject through the drip irrigation system. And the final source is the use of compost, leaf mulch, and aged manures that we have applied and will continue to apply on the beds.
The long-term goal for organic growers is to build up organic soil fertility by increasing active soil organic matter. Using high residue, no-till, cover cropping systems is the best way to increase active soil organic matter. Active soil organic matter is like a savings account thus requiring less applied fertilizer amendments. A good example of that is this corn field. These plots have not been plowed. We’ve had a continuous series of cover crops, followed by vegetable crops, now in its eighth year. Because we haven’t tilled the soil very deeply, we see a very strong granulation and a build-up of soil organic matter. This beautiful crop of corn received only 50 units of nitrogen, but we’re getting nice yields because we have built up the active soil organic matter over time using these organic systems and that pool releases nitrogen to the plant as needed.