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Outrageous tillage

By Staff | Dec 20, 2013

To the editor,

Traveling around Wright and Hamilton counties, I see deep tillage in soybean stubble. This brings to mind the following insights:

To till, or not to till, that is the question:

Whether ’tis nobler in soil health to suffer

The shanks and shovel of outrageous tillage

Or to take scientific data against these fields of troubles

And by opposing limit them. To destroy or just sleep

And let the soil microbes due their intended jobs.

The heartache and the thousand natural shocks

That future generations will come to realize

That excessive tillage devoutly to be wished

Was not the solution for better yields.

To till, or just rest and sleep?

To sleep, perchance to dream of tilling, ay, there’s the rub:

For with this excessive tillage, what nightmares may come,

When we have shuffled off the mortalized microbes,

Must give us pause-there’s the respect

For our soils of so long a life

If we can limit tillage and prevent the whips and scorns of time,

Th’ oppressor’s wrong, the pride of many proud man’s contumely,

The pangs of soil’s dispriz’d love, the soil law’s delay,

To grunt and sweat under excessive tillage,

Not knowing the dread of something that develops,

To over-tilled rich Iowa farmland.

Thus conscience does make cowards of us all,

And thus the resolution,

With this regard of excessive tillage,

And lose the name of this action.

If Shakespeare was around today, I am sure he would have come up with writings on soil and how to keep it healthy – preventing wind erosion, water erosion, nutrient loss and degradation of soil organic matter. We at your local Natural Resources and Conservation Service office have this focus. Give us a call if you have questions.

-Bruce Voigts, project coordinator

MRBI Boone River and Lyons Creek Watershed

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