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Proof In The Field

“We have to figure out how to conserve

energy on our farms.”


The Rodale Institute farmers became convinced that they were on the right track when comparing two side-by-side cornfields. One had been in alfalfa for several years prior, and the other a single season in hairy vetch.

The first field that had been in alfalfa was plowed, disced, packed, and planted – a total of nine passes – yielded 143 bushels of corn.

The vetch field, which was only rolled, planted and later harvested – for just two passes – yielded 160 bushels.

“We didn’t spray herbicides, we didn’t add any nitrogen, and we still got 160 bushels. That really appealed to the lazy side of me,” said Moyer.

“The field that we did all that work had more weeds than the field where we let the biology of the system do all the work.”


Using cover crops in combination with the crop roller under a no-till system allowed the Rodale Institute to eliminate 70 per cent of the energy needed to grow corn.

“And what’s on the front page of every newspaper these days? It’s all about energy. We have to figure out how to conserve energy on our farms. These are just some of the tools that we can use to do that,” said Moyer.

He added that some of his Pennsylvania Amish neighbours have discovered that the cover crop roller can also be pulled by a team of horses, for virtually fossil fuel-free, no-till farming. [email protected]



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