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No Till Organic Farming – John Schwarz

Author Growing Solutions
Branding Ag Excellence
Credits SA No-Till Farmers Association
Video Transcript

John Schwarz and his wife Jenny have been organic farming in the South Australian Mallee region for 23 years. John talks to us about the progress he is making towards no till using his recently purchased Serafin double disc zero till machine.

We really started down this path right back in 1989 that was when we first were told that we had to do something different because the chemicals were affecting basically the health of my whole family.

From Full Cultivation to No Till

I guess our program’s pretty different to conventional farmers these days because, for the most part, there’s so many people going into no-till whereas we are pretty much full cultivation. We do have a double disc seeder, and so the first year we tried was in 2010 when that was a particularly wet year. And yeah, we got encouraging results at that point. And basically what we were doing was sowing straight into unprepared ground with all the weeds still there.

Conservation of Native Grasses Through No Till

Not making any attempt to kill the weeds, but simply sowing in amongst the weed. One of the main reasons why we headed down this path was to try and conserve the native grasses that we have coming up whenever we have a wet summer.

So, my theory and stategy with this was that if in fact we can have those grasses continue right through winter,¬†which they simply go dormant through that time. And then have a flash of grasses again the next spring. We are going to have feed for our stock, which we weren’t used to having before.

And, yes, that side of it has certainly been very good because yes, the grasses have stayed on and they have really flourished the next year, but from the cropping perspective we haven’t found the right balance yet.

Seed Spreading Strategies

The next strategy we use is to seed a little heavier than what we conventional farmers do, and also to spread that seed as much as possible. Because by spreading the seed, we actually provide competition for the weeds.and the weeds don’t do terribly well under competition. We realize that working a ground as we do in the conventional manner with full tillage, we do constantly have that problem that we’re up against the drift issue if we get wind and wind is just a part of farming in this country.

Taplan Farmer, John Schwarz speaks to us about implementing a zero till disc seeding system into his organic program.

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