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Pennsylvania No-Till Alliance Celebrates 10 Years of Soil Health

Posted: August 3, 2015

Hershey Farms in Elizabethtown hosts field day featuring Ray Archuleta, Leroy Bupp and cover crop mixtures
Ray Archuleta does a demonstration on how cover cropping and no-till benefits soil structure in an agriculture system.

Ray Archuleta does a demonstration on how cover cropping and no-till benefits soil structure in an agriculture system.

One of Pennsylvania’s most successful farmer led conservation organizations celebrated its tenth anniversary on July 28 by hosting a soil health day in Elizabethtown.

For a decade, the Pennsylvania No-Till Alliance has brought together like-minded farmers who use no-till as an important best management practice (BMP) for lowering fuel, labor, and equipment costs and improving soil quality, productivity, and profitability. Farmers like Leroy Bupp.

“Do you know long it takes nature to create topsoil?” Bupp, a York County dairy farmer, asked the crowd. “100 to 200 years!” he exclaimed.

Bupp travels all over Pennsylvania teaching farmers and agriculture educators the importance of soil health. As a farmer himself, he understands the importance of protecting what nature takes so long to create.

Featured speakers, along with Bupp, included Ray Archuleta, an USDA NRCS agronomist. Archuleta is well-known in the soil science world, preaching tools to create a natural ecosystem within a farming system which mimics biology, something he calls “biomimicry.”

“Cover cropping isn’t the goal. No-till isn’t the goal. Soil health is the goal,” he told the crowd.

The second half of the day was spent in the field observing cover cropping, interseeding and no-till methods on the farm of Jim Hershey, president of the No-Till Alliance. Hershey is famous for his cover crop solutions mix of crimson clover, tillage radishes and ryegrass. This mixture helps create a natural ecosystem within a no-till system by fixing nitrogen and “natural tilling” with the radishes.

No-till is steadily increasing in Pennsylvania, increasing almost 10% in the last few years from 58.8% to 68.0% since 2008. No-till decreases soil erosion, improves soil structure and with other agriculture BMPs, can create an ecological farming system.