To till or not to till?
by Barbara Marier
(British Columbia, Canada)
I'm a little confused about the no-till, or minimum till rule I've been reading about. I read books that say tilling is completely unnecessary, (such as Masanobu Fukuoka's "One Straw Revolution"), yet Bill Mollison (Permaculture) talks about growing green manure crops to turn under to enrich soil.
We have a 22-acre plot with about 3 acres of very sandy and depleted soil that was tilled a couple of years ago. We planted a legume crop 2 springs ago, and turned it under in the fall, then planted winter barley and turned it under the following spring. We now have a lush cover crop of clover growing there and are not sure what to do next. Should we turn it under again, or just leave it be? We do not yet live on the property, but are preparing it for a self-sustaining homestead once my husband retires in 2 years.
Can anyone enlighten me as to when, or if it is appropriate to get the tractor out and till the ground?
I should mention that our property is in northern British Columbia, with long, cold winters to minus 30 C, and frost penetration of the ground to 6 feet!