Published Feb 13, 2019

Ridge-Till Vegetable Production

By Practical Farmers of Iowa


Ridge tillage is a system used mainly in row crop production that allows for some cultivation while reducing soil erosion and improving soil quality. Beds are shaped into elevated ridges, and only the tops of the ridges are cultivated prior to planting. Many vegetable producers, such as Middle Way Farm’s Jordan Scheibel, want to gain the soil-building benefits of this conservation tillage practice on their farms. The complexity of a diverse vegetable farm, however, presents some challenges to using this type of tillage. Brian Caldwell managed a Cornell research project that trialed ridge-till systems for organic vegetable production. He will share with Jordan the best practices for adopting a conservation tillage system on his farm.

  • Jordan Scheibel runs Middle Way Farm just north of Grinnell on the Lacina family farm. 2018 was his sixth growing season as a solo farmer, and his third year farming full-time. Middle Way Farm grows about 2 acres of chemical-free vegetables sold primarily through Community Supported Agriculture shares and farmers markets from May through November.
  • Brian Caldwell is a researcher with Cornell University’s Reduced Tillage Organic Vegetables Project, and a former extension educator. Brian has been a partner in Hemlock Grove Farm growing certified organic fruit and vegetables since 1986.