Reduced and modified tillage systems, including strip-till, represent strategies to reduce soil degradation and erosion and protect water quality.
Ridge tillage has shown even greater adaptability to medium and fine-textured soils in Northeast region and consistently provided the highest yields, even greater than moldboard plowing, in 10-year tillage experiments on two soil types. Use of tillage systems that involve some ridging and bedding while still providing the benefits of minimum tillage therefore appear to be most promising for the region.
No-till systems with cover crops have been shown feasible for several vegetable crops, including broccoli, snap beans and tomatoes in the more southern regions of the Northeast. In more northern areas, pumpkins have been grown successfully with no-till.
Successful vegetable production in strip-tillage systems has been demonstrated with sweet corn, snap beans, peas, and other vegetables in the Southeast.
However, yield results in northern climates are variable. Strip-tillage of snap beans improved yields relative to no-till systems, but effects varied for sweet pepper and winter squash yields. Tillage systems had no effect on tomato yields in a study in Ontario. Studies are ongoing at the Cornell University, New York, to adapt various reduced tillage practices to vegetable production. For more information, you can contact Anusuya Rangarajan, an Associate Professor of the Horticultural Department, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York.
Just like crops, soil responds differently to tillage systems. It is important to know the nature of your soil before engaging in any form of reduced tillage. The Cornell Soil Health team can assist in assessing the suitability of your soil to reduced tillage in New York State. Please feel free to contact Cornell Soil Health Team on any question regarding your soils in relation to tillage.