Saving the Soil: Blake Vince's Quest for No-Till Farming
Blake Vince is a fifth-generation farmer who adheres to what appears to be a set of unconventional farming techniques. Most farmers prepare for planting by tilling their fields, turning over weeds and cover crops to expose the dirt underneath. Vince, however, practices "no-till" farming, leaving the top layer of soil undisturbed. Further, he allows for a variety of cover crops to grow alongside the soybean plants he cultivates. This combination of no-till and cover crop farming is thought to be more sustainable in the long run but comes at the expense of crop yields in the short run (for the first few years). There is tradition linked to the practice of tilling, but, according to Vince's research, tilling contributes to reduced soil health, decreases the ability of the soil to hold water and nutrients, and increases agricultural runoff of excess fertilizers into regional water systems. Vince's challenge is how to spread the word that farm owners should plan and act as long-term stewards if they wish to preserve the land for future generations to use. He faces an uphill battle.