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Farming Without Chemicals in Ohio
A Case Study Report

Author: Keith Dix
Innovative Farmers of Ohio
in cooperation with the Citizens Policy Center

9. What additional equipment will the transition to organic require?

The two pieces of equipment that one will find on an organic grain/soybean farm and rarely on a conventional farm are the rotary hoe and the cultivator. In addition, some of the organic growers reported that they use a moldboard plow, an implement used less frequently on conventional farms. Generally speaking, organic farming does not require a substantial investment in new equipment. Five of the seven organic farmers interviewed reported that they found it necessary to invest in grain storage bins. These facilities make it possible to hold their soybeans and/or grain until the buyers need them, perhaps as long as six months after harvest. Dean Mc. thinks that it's possible to acquire the needed equipment at reasonable prices: "As technology and equipment changes for today's conventional farmer, I find that we're picking up their old pieces of equipment. A lot of tools used in the minimum till phase in conventional farming is what works best for us. An assortment of off-set disks, finish disks, field cultivators, soil finishers (a combination tool with a set of disks in front, then shovels to lift and a drag to level) and a rotary hoe. We have an assortment here because soil conditions at different times of the year can demand a different tool. And I think the rotating of your tillage kind of mixes your soil differently and prevents hardpan from being developed. The rotary hoe and cultivator are tools from the conventional system, but you don't see them on conventional farms anymore. The tools that we use are found in the backyard of equipment dealers. They are basically discards that are out of vogue. They're not necessarily worn out or junk, just not utilized. Depending on where the farmer is coming from, the transition in equipment would not be that great. Most implements are adaptable, possibly there's a piece or two he might need. Nothing significant, less that $10,000 would enable him to pick up the two or three pieces he might need.