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Foundation Farm
Organic/No-till System
Part 1: Building Blocks of No-Till
Patrice Gros, owner/farmer
2017 West Plains, MO
Organic/No-till SystemFF BY THE NUMBERS (2016)
• 24,000 square feet at work (about 1/2 acre)
• 2016 sales: $80,000 from ov...
Organic/No-till System
A VERY SHORT HISTORY OF NO-TILL
Elaine Ingham: her research
works exploded the field of soil
microb...
Organic/No-till System
BUILDING BLOCK #1: NO-TILL
Soil Life = Complexity & Interdependence = Nutrition & Balance
500,000 m...
Organic/No-till System
BUILDING BLOCK #1: NO-TILL
• Optimal microbial life: natural soil texture and structure plus micro-...
Organic/No-till System
BUILDING BLOCK #2: NO-COMPACTION
(From Machine, Man, or Weather)
• Passive anti-compaction techniqu...
Organic/No-till System
BUILDING BLOCK #3: ORGANIC MATTER
• On-farm: Soil Biomass (micro-organisms, root mass). Crop Residu...
Organic/No-till System
BUILDING BLOCK #3: ORGANIC MATTER
2016 Soil Test
Organic/No-till System
BUILDING BLOCK #4: MULCH
• Feeds soil life: 600 square bales digested by soil
life each year, i.e. ...
Organic/No-till System
BUILDING BLOCK #5: PERMANENT BED/PATH SYSTEM
• Easy, any-day, mud-free access
• Beds are trampling-...
Organic/No-till System
BUILDING BLOCK #6: DRIP IRRIGATION
• Minimizes Compaction
• Minimizes Evaporation
• Minimizes Weeds
Organic/No-till System
BUILDING BLOCK #7: ORGANIC POLYCULTURE
• Optimal Farm Ecology: soil biology, insects, reptiles, bir...
Organic/No-till System
NOT BUILDING BLOCKS:
• Compost (never, neither on-farm nor off-farm)
• Crop Rotation (no longer nee...
My farming/gardening books are
available for $10 each or $25 for all 3.
Foundation Farm organic/no-till system
Foundation Farm
Organic/No-till System
Part 2: Cultivation Methods & Results
Patrice Gros, owner/farmer
2017 West Plains, ...
Organic/No-till System
BED/PATH PROFILE
• Never-tilled, never-raised, never-moved beds
• 4 foot beds, 3 foot paths
• 3 len...
Organic/No-till System
BED SET UP
• Initial set up: mulch over mowed grass
• Paths are original pasture, mowed
• Initial s...
Organic/No-till System
SIDE DITCH (optional for drainage)
• Half foot drainage ditch (1 or 2) in the “shoulder area”.
• Us...
Organic/No-till System
BEDS’ PRODUCTIVITY
• No-till soil
• 4 rows of lettuce heads, leeks; 3 rows of chard, cabbage; 2 row...
Organic/No-till System
BEDS’ PRODUCTIVITY
2016 Actual
mo sq. f sq.f. X mo sales $/sq.f./mo % sales
ht dill 2.5 100 250 $31...
Organic/No-till System
SPRING (03-05): RAISE YOUR SOIL TEMP!
• Bed-centers exposed (old mulch raked to sides)
• Start mulc...
Foundation Farm organic no-till system
SPRING CROP: Onions
Foundation Farm organic no-till system
SUMMER ONION BOUNTY: 10,000 of them!!!
Organic/No-till System
SUMMER (06-08): LOWER YOUR SOIL TEMP!
• Mulch, Mulch, Mulch!!! (except lettuce)
• Start plants in m...
Organic/No-till System
FALL (09-11): RAISE YOUR SOIL TEMP!
• Bed-centers exposed (old mulch raked to sides)
• Use winter h...
Foundation Farm organic no-till system
FALL CROP: Fall Lettuce ready in 60 minutes!
Organic/No-till System
WINTER (10-05): USE HIGH TUNNNELS!
• 22% of annual sales
• Same fertility requirements
• Same basic...
Organic/No-till System
FOUNDATION FARM SCHOOL - 2017
• 03/01 TO 10/31 (7 Months, 3 Seasons). Trainees are
encouraged to st...
1- Shopping at your local farmer’s markets
and/or thru a CSA (farm subscription
program).
2- Cooking at home with fresh fo...
My farming/gardening books are
available for $10 each or $25 for all 3.
Foundation Farm organic/no-till system
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17 no till agriculture

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American Small Farm Conference 2017

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17 no till agriculture

  1. 1. Foundation Farm Organic/No-till System Part 1: Building Blocks of No-Till Patrice Gros, owner/farmer 2017 West Plains, MO
  2. 2. Organic/No-till SystemFF BY THE NUMBERS (2016) • 24,000 square feet at work (about 1/2 acre) • 2016 sales: $80,000 from over 25 crop types. • 5 high tunnels: 3 (100X17), 1 (90X30), 1 (150X24) • 3 weekly farmers’ markets (65%), COOP Store, 4 to 6 restaurants, small CSA. • 3 mornings of field work; averaging 50 man/hours weekly (Patrice + 2 to 4 trainees)
  3. 3. Organic/No-till System A VERY SHORT HISTORY OF NO-TILL Elaine Ingham: her research works exploded the field of soil microbiology. key book: “Teaming with Microbes” Jeff Lowenfels Masanobu Fukuoka: farmer-genius key book: “One-Straw Revolution”
  4. 4. Organic/No-till System BUILDING BLOCK #1: NO-TILL Soil Life = Complexity & Interdependence = Nutrition & Balance 500,000 micro organisms could fit inside the period at the end of this sentence.
  5. 5. Organic/No-till System BUILDING BLOCK #1: NO-TILL • Optimal microbial life: natural soil texture and structure plus micro-biological “glue” form “aggregates” which creates an ideal ecosystem. Tilling destroys soil’s natural texture, structure and micro-biome ! • Optimal water and air content: soil in its un-tilled, natural state optimizes water and air availability to plants and micro-organisms. Tilling cuts moisture and air capacity in half leading to heavier irrigation and repeated tilling. • Optimal nutrient availability: undisturbed soil structure and biology optimizes nutrient accumulation/release, hence can reduce, and even eliminate the need for fertilizers. Note: plants are capable of producing “exudates” which attract specific micro-organisms (bacteria) which in turn can feed the plants throughout the extensive rhizosphere (root area). Rhizosphere can be vastly extended by fungal networks. Tilling leads to more fertilizing; organic or conventional.
  6. 6. Organic/No-till System BUILDING BLOCK #2: NO-COMPACTION (From Machine, Man, or Weather) • Passive anti-compaction techniques: zero machine impact (No-Till, No- Anything)), zero human impact (No-Till, Permanent Beds/Paths), low to zero weather impact (mulch, row covers, tunnels, high density plantings) • Active anti-compaction agents: soil life (micro and macro), decaying root systems (cash and cover crops), weather related effects (freeze).
  7. 7. Organic/No-till System BUILDING BLOCK #3: ORGANIC MATTER • On-farm: Soil Biomass (micro-organisms, root mass). Crop Residues. Grass clippings (from mowing paths). Surrounding materials (leaves from trees, bushes), Cover Crops (clover/oat, buckwheat/soybean), • Off-farm: Mulch. Rabbit manure (25#/100 squ. feet/yearly maintenance rate).
  8. 8. Organic/No-till System BUILDING BLOCK #3: ORGANIC MATTER 2016 Soil Test
  9. 9. Organic/No-till System BUILDING BLOCK #4: MULCH • Feeds soil life: 600 square bales digested by soil life each year, i.e. 1 bale/50 square feet. • Maintains high soil moisture level: optimizes soil life, reduces irrigation needs. • Minimizes weeds: reduces or eliminates cultivation • Protects against compaction: Mulch can be: any grain, pine needles, leaves, wood chips, sand, but not hay, not fresh saw-dust, not plastic.
  10. 10. Organic/No-till System BUILDING BLOCK #5: PERMANENT BED/PATH SYSTEM • Easy, any-day, mud-free access • Beds are trampling-free (no compaction) • Concentrated inputs (organic matter) • Grassy paths enhance soil life complexity and plant development
  11. 11. Organic/No-till System BUILDING BLOCK #6: DRIP IRRIGATION • Minimizes Compaction • Minimizes Evaporation • Minimizes Weeds
  12. 12. Organic/No-till System BUILDING BLOCK #7: ORGANIC POLYCULTURE • Optimal Farm Ecology: soil biology, insects, reptiles, birds, etc.. • Natural insect and disease control • Increased yields through better pollination and natural insect/disease control
  13. 13. Organic/No-till System NOT BUILDING BLOCKS: • Compost (never, neither on-farm nor off-farm) • Crop Rotation (no longer needed) • Cover Crops (no longer needed)
  14. 14. My farming/gardening books are available for $10 each or $25 for all 3. Foundation Farm organic/no-till system
  15. 15. Foundation Farm Organic/No-till System Part 2: Cultivation Methods & Results Patrice Gros, owner/farmer 2017 West Plains, MO
  16. 16. Organic/No-till System BED/PATH PROFILE • Never-tilled, never-raised, never-moved beds • 4 foot beds, 3 foot paths • 3 lengths: 100, 125 and 150 feet • Strung on one side, with other side “floater” • Grouped in 5 zones of 6,000 square feet • Drip irrigated (low pressure, manual valves) • Same set up inside tunnels
  17. 17. Organic/No-till System BED SET UP • Initial set up: mulch over mowed grass • Paths are original pasture, mowed • Initial set up: heavy manuring (50#/100 square feet), optional compost • Initial set up: rock dusting (granite, azomite, green sand) • ½ foot inner shoulders (on-site composting) • 2 drip tapes per bed (4 inch emitters)
  18. 18. Organic/No-till System SIDE DITCH (optional for drainage) • Half foot drainage ditch (1 or 2) in the “shoulder area”. • Useful on outside beds of our tunnels, where rainfall is concentrated
  19. 19. Organic/No-till System BEDS’ PRODUCTIVITY • No-till soil • 4 rows of lettuce heads, leeks; 3 rows of chard, cabbage; 2 rows of pepper, eggplant; 1 row of sweet potato, squash • 2 to 3 crops per year • Average production: 55 cents per square foot per month ($ales) Ex: 2015 cucumbers: one 125 foot bed yielded 500 square feetX 3.5 monthsX 51 cents = $892
  20. 20. Organic/No-till System BEDS’ PRODUCTIVITY 2016 Actual mo sq. f sq.f. X mo sales $/sq.f./mo % sales ht dill 2.5 100 250 $310 $1.24 0% ht celery 8 200 1600 $1,789 $1.12 2% ht lettuce 3 900 2700 $2,846 $1.05 4% ht kale 6.5 300 1950 $2,053 $1.05 3% fall cilantro 3 600 1800 $1,819 $1.01 2% lettuce 1.5 4500 6750 $6,359 $0.94 8% eggplant 6 400 2400 $2,184 $0.91 3% ht bok-choi 4 300 1200 $1,084 $0.90 1% basil 4 200 800 $681 $0.85 1% ht lettuce 3 300 900 $747 $0.83 1% pepper 6 800 4800 $3,910 $0.81 5% 30%
  21. 21. Organic/No-till System SPRING (03-05): RAISE YOUR SOIL TEMP! • Bed-centers exposed (old mulch raked to sides) • Start mulching (weeds) in May • Use winter high tunnels till mid May • Use mini-tunnels and/or row covers (medium grade) • Use nitrogen booster: feather meal (14-0-0)
  22. 22. Foundation Farm organic no-till system SPRING CROP: Onions
  23. 23. Foundation Farm organic no-till system SUMMER ONION BOUNTY: 10,000 of them!!!
  24. 24. Organic/No-till System SUMMER (06-08): LOWER YOUR SOIL TEMP! • Mulch, Mulch, Mulch!!! (except lettuce) • Start plants in mulch or add mulch around spring plantings (squash, onions) • Shading cloth (50%) on heat sensitive crops (arugula, lettuce) • Zero input (enjoy no-till) • Zero weeding (enjoy mulch) • Drip-irrigate
  25. 25. Organic/No-till System FALL (09-11): RAISE YOUR SOIL TEMP! • Bed-centers exposed (old mulch raked to sides) • Use winter high tunnels starting in September (if available…) • Use mini-tunnels and/or row covers (medium grade) • Use nitrogen booster: feather meal (14-0-0)
  26. 26. Foundation Farm organic no-till system FALL CROP: Fall Lettuce ready in 60 minutes!
  27. 27. Organic/No-till System WINTER (10-05): USE HIGH TUNNNELS! • 22% of annual sales • Same fertility requirements • Same basic cultivation techniques • Heavy use of cold tunnels (11,000 square feet, 1/3 of total)
  28. 28. Organic/No-till System FOUNDATION FARM SCHOOL - 2017 • 03/01 TO 10/31 (7 Months, 3 Seasons). Trainees are encouraged to stay at least one month. • 3 weekly mornings (Mo/We/Fr: total of 15 hours) of supervised field work. Weekly class. • Camping or RV. Summer kitchen. • mamakapa@yahoo.com / 479-981 2977 • Info at www.foundationfarm.com
  29. 29. 1- Shopping at your local farmer’s markets and/or thru a CSA (farm subscription program). 2- Cooking at home with fresh food for your family, neighbors and friends. I thank you and please support us by: Patrice’s email: mamakapa@yahoo.com Foundation Farm organic/no-till system
  30. 30. My farming/gardening books are available for $10 each or $25 for all 3. Foundation Farm organic/no-till system

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