There is room for conventional tillage as trends change | Southern Idaho Agriculture News
“It’s very easy to kill with a disc and a cultivator,” Mugge said. “I travel a lot, but these trips are quick and light. I try to lose as little land as possible.
Mugge said conventional tillage is the best option for weed control on his farm. Being an organic farmer, he does not have access to herbicides that other farmers can use. He also said it fits into his farm rotation. He said they arrived at this timeline after years of trial and error, especially after going organic 20 years ago.
“That’s why I have to cultivate everything,” he said. “I rotate the tillage systems (annually), I rotate the fall crops, I rotate the cover crops, and I think this is all important. “
Mugge said he wanted to continue removing passes in his territory. Doing a full tillage every three years is a start, but he said organic farmers are sometimes criticized for using too much energy with their tillage. On average, he said, organic farms will use less fossil fuels than conventional farms.
“It’s mainly because of nitrogen fertilizers,” he said. “Fossil energy is used to make anhydrous ammonia, and I don’t use it. I use my red clover and animal manure. From a fossil fuel perspective of the equation, I’m fine.
He noted that the other part of the debate is resource conservation, which is why Mugge chooses to limit tillage to his standard every three years. He said tillage makes the soil vulnerable to erosion, but using other conservation methods can help tackle the losses. He attributes its high soil organic matter content to the use of cover crops and other practices.