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Soil Compaction on No-Till Beds

Mon, 29 Apr 2019 11:00:09 GMT

I've been doing some experimentation with no-till on my three acre organic vegetable farm. 9/10ths of it will continue to be tilled this season but I have a little plot of rye that I crimped with a homemade crimper, a deep compost mulch spot, a cardboard and straw-mulch spot and a black-tarped spot. My goal is to observe how these different systems work this season, but I'd still like to get some veggies out of these experimental plots! On the deep compost mulch beds we ended up walking on them quite a bit to get the compost spread and now I'm finding that I simply can't bring myself to plant where so much compaction has happened. Does anyone have experience planting into no-till beds that have had some human traffic go over them? Is the compaction as big a deal as it feels like it is in my mind? No-till beds experience the compaction of rain anyway, so is the weight of humans much worse?

Tue, 30 Apr 2019 21:37:12 GMT

In a permabed setup foot traffic is not an issue. At any rate to me it seems that mature no till soils are more firm, less prone to collapse then rototilled structureless fluff... If you feel the plot got stepped on a bit too much during prepping you can give it a light pass with a broadfork (no ripping just jiggling) to bring it back to shape. And consider creating a walkway- bed structure that stays the same forever otherwise foot traffic will ruin the no till effort imho.

Wed, 01 May 2019 12:02:44 GMT

With no dig you can walk on the beds a lot more, the manure is way more forgiving than crumbly tilled earth and actually I go through a process of compaction to get it tight and therefore more dense to surpress grass and weeds. Plants like a bit of firmness. I've heavy mulched my path ways too, as I feel that plants on the edges of the rows will benefit with roots going into the rows.