Healing the Soil Through No-Till, Focusing on Boosting Organic Matter

A combination of long-term no-till, cover crops, planting green and spreading manure brings organic matter levels from 2-4.8%.

Pictured Above: ORGANIC MATTER MASTER. Seven Valleys, Pa., no-tiller Leroy Bupp has made it his focus to raise organic matter levels over the last 30 years. Using a combination of techniques, including long-term cover cropping, planting green and spreading manure, he’s seen a large boost. An average across 150 soil samples pulled from all 700 acres of his farm over the past 4 years show that his organic matter has risen from 2-4.8%

An ancestor of the Leroy Bupp’s family likely started farming the land in Seven Valleys, Pa. Bupp currently farms on acres that were originally farmed around the time the 13 colonies declared independence from Britain. Of course, much has changed over the years.

Bupp says when farmers in the “new world” first started cutting their plots into the pristine, virgin forest and prairie lands, the soil’s organic matter content was probably around 10%. Over 2½ centuries of farming, especially in the last century with large-scale, full-width tillage, much of the country’s soil organic matter level has languished around 2% and below. 

His family’s farm was no different. But Bupp has spent the past 30 years concentrating specifically on restoring organic matter to the soil. Through a combination of long-term no-tilling, cover cropping, planting green and spreading manure, he feels he is well on his way to restoring the land.

An average across 150 soil samples pulled from all 700 acres of his farm over the past 4 years show that his organic matter has risen to 4.8%. 

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Ian Gronau

Ian Gronau is a Contributing Editor for Lessiter Publications, with primary support responsibilities for Precision Farming Dealer, Strip-Till Strategies and the Strip-Till Farmer Website. He is a graduate of Chicago’s Columbia College and has been preparing content for magazines, websites and newspapers since 2009, and has been recognized with several awards.

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