ORWELL, Vt. — According to The Mountain Times in Vermont, a farmer is trying no-till corn to increase profitability and reduce phosphorus runoff, which has been contributing to algae blooms in the region’s Lake Champlain. 

The Mountain Times reports:

Drive the back roads of Central Vermont right now, and you’ll see acres and acres of plowed corn fields, giant clods of clay upturned, waiting for the cold and snow to break them into something more manageable, so that springtime harrowing can convert them into something like a seed bed fit for next year’s corn.

Anyone who has ever planted so much as a zinnia in heavy clay soils can appreciate the wisdom of these conventional farming practices. Yet these very practices can have unwanted consequences to the environment when they lead to runoff of phosphorus into Lake Champlain.

An Orwell farmer has committed a large share of his acreage to a system of farming new to Vermont—no-till planting—that agronomists say will substantially cut back pollution runoff while saving growers money. The system avoids disturbing soil with a plow, but instead leaves fields fallow in the fall with a cover crop, letting natural processes break down residue from the previous crop.

“I was scared to death with our first no-till crop, because I could see all this money going into the ground, and you don’t know what you’re going to get,” said Brad Thomas, who milks 175 Holsteins and farms 465 acres in Orwell and 225 in Rutland County. “But, boy, when we were done we had a beautiful crop.”

To read the full story, visit the article on MountainTimes.info.