The Massachusetts chapter of the Northeast Organic Farming Association. NOFA/Mass welcomes everyone who cares about food, where it comes from and how it’s grown

Growing Organically Since 1982

Strategies For Minimizing Tillage: Occultation, Permanent beds, and Strip Tillage

Occultation using black tarps can reduce the use of tillage and cultivation
April 24, 2017 - 3:00pm to 5:30pm
First Light Farm
464 Highland St
Hamilton, MA

NOFA/MOFGA Member - $25
Non-member - $32
*add $5 for walk-ins


By now, most farmers know the importance of minimizing tillage: better soil structure, more water retention, carbon sequestration, and enhanced soil biology. But, for organic farmers the theory is often easier than the practice.

Over the years Mike Raymond at First Light Farm has tried a number of strategies to maximize their soil biology and minimize their soil disturbance. Mike has tried a wide variety of practices to keep soil structure intact and organic matter as high as possible, including strip tillage, permanent pathways, cover crop mixes, and trialing a wide assortment of tillage and cultivation implements.

During this in-field workshop, Mike will discuss his nine years of experience working to enhance soil biology on his seven acres of sandy soils. Mike will discuss how and why he now uses occultation, a technique that uses black tarps to kill and quickly decompose plant matter, to prepare his beds after cover or cash crops. All participants will also get to participate in an occultation demo.

Mike will also discuss which cover crop mixes he uses in his crop rotation and which implements have been most successful in his effort to minimize soil disturbance.

Clover growing in permanent pathways

About the Instructor:

Mike Raymond started his organic farming career in Southern VT at Harlow Farm. Harlow Farm became an incubator site for Mike's Homegrown Pesto, which he sold throughout the Northeast. He then managed a few non-profit farms: Holcomb Farm in Granby, CT and Land's Sake in Weston, MA.  In 2008 he started First Light Farm, a diversified vegetable farm that sells through CSA, farmers’ markets, and wholesale to local stores and restaurants.

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For questions contact Dan Bensonoff, education events organizer, at or 860-716-5122

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