soybeans avena strigosa

Roberto Peiretti’s 20 Tips for a Dynamic No-Till System

The veteran South American no-tiller and consultant shares insights on measuring the contributions cover crops make to the soil, and advice for managing the complex interactions that are a hallmark of healthy, productive soils.

Pictured Above: ROTATIONAL BENEFITS. Soybeans growing out of corn and avena strigosa (black oats) stubble don’t have to worry about competing with weeds because not only does the biomass completely cover the ground, the avena strigosa has allelopathic properties

When it comes to confirming the benefits of a dynamic no-till system, Roberto Peiretti has had the benefit of 40 years of experience honing his approach in Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay.

A founding member of the Argentinian no-till farmers association, AAPRESID, Peiretti says cover crops are an important part of his system.

“Farming realities and facts have convinced me that including and intensifying the use of cover crops in a no-till system significantly improves agroecosystem functioning and farming results — not only in the short term but also for the medium and long range.”

While he stresses the “recipe” for no-till and cover crop success may be different from one from to the next, Peiretti says there are several principles that help lead to maximizing their use.

1. Follow the three essential pillars of a no-till system: 

  • Maintain continuous soil cover with living plants or a layer of crop residue
  • Implement a continuous diverse cropping rotation 
  • Strive for minimal soil disturbance

2. Learn to understand the synergies between carbon and soil physical, chemical and biological characteristics. “Carbon is the frame and the fuel of every living thing,” Peiretti says, adding that soil physical factors such as porosity and color are enhanced by biological components like earthworms. 

3. A well-designed cover…

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Julia gerlach web

Julia Gerlach

Julia Gerlach is the former Executive Editor of No-Till Farmer. She has a lengthy background in publishing and a longtime interest in gardening and mycology. She graduated with a B.A. in music and philosophy from Alverno College in Milwaukee, Wis.

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