Reduced and modified tillage (RT) systems (e.g. no-, zone-, strip) represent strategies to reduce soil degradation and erosion and protect water quality. Previous research has shown that zone and deep zone tillage systems can provide the environmental and economic benefits of a RT system for many vegetable crops without the harvest delays or losses observed in straight no-till.
Many farmers have P. capsici in their fields and need soil management and cultural practices that restrict the development of Phytophthora blight. RT systems can improve both soil quality and soil drainage, potentially reducing Phytophtora blight. Growers who have tried deep-zone tillage (DZT) have observed that crops grown also appear to withstand drought more successfully than conventionally tilled fields.
Are you interested in trying DZT equipment on your farm? We have learned that transitioning to reduced tillage has been restricted on smaller vegetable farms (less than 100 horsepower tractor), in part due to limited access to small-scale deep zone tillage equipment. We have purchased two-row DZT equipment that is available to growers who are interested in trying this system on their own farm, without having to make the investment in their own equipment. Growers who are interested should contact the Vegetable Program at (413) 545-3696.
Case studies. We are working with Cornell Extension and local growers who have tried DZT, to evaluate the benefits and potential hurdles associated with this system. Please follow the link to Cornell Extension, for evaluations from farmers across the Northeast.
Reduced tillage resources. Cornell Extension offers several fact sheets on Reduced Tillage.
Farm trials. We are running on-farm trials comparing DZT to conventional tillage in split field trials, where each field is half deep zone tilled and half subject to conventional tillage. In each section, we are measuring properties related to the soil water dynamics, which give us a good idea about how DZT systems will respond to both heavy rainfall and drought compared to conventional tillage. We are also taking measurements of stand and yield to see if there are differences between the systems in terms of basic productivity.
There has been a lot of interest lately in DZT systems, and we're excited about being able to provide access to the equipment and information necessary for growers to get some first hand experience and make informed decisions about the system. We're thankful to NE-SARE for providing funding to evaluate DZT systems, and to the growers who are generously donating their time and effort to support out trials. Stay tuned to Vegetable Notes for more information on the project and DZT in general.