b'Spring tillage work being done at H. J. Vander Zaag Farms Ltd. in Alliston, Ont.PHOTO: HOMER VANDER ZAAGA major advantage of using cover crops in a minimum tillage setting is that the water holding capacity of the soil increases drastically. Some studies show a fivefold increase in that capacity. In 2021, certain areas saw an exceptionally dry spring, whereas June and July were the opposite, followed again by very dry and wet periods. In such unpredictable situations, good and healthy soil can contribute positively to having a good harvest at the end of the season. For the extreme dry periods, the potato growers used irrigation where possible, but with the extreme drought, the irrigation systems were stretched to the limit.The potato growers on the panel also had some advice for other growers who are considering switching to minimum tillage. Dont be afraid to try. You will make mistakes and you are going to mess up. Start small and keep trying and keep pushing. It will pay off, says Berry. The growers are also convinced a minimum tillage approach leads to a lower disease pressure in their potato fields. Its a fine line the growers are walking, as each crop protection product also hurts beneficial organisms. The more organic matter and beneficial organisms there are in the soil, the more resilient a Windrower placing six rows of potatoes in rows to be picked up by the field gets to withstand fluctuations.harvester at Under the Hill Farms from a minimal tillage field during the 2020 growing season. PHOTO: VIKRAM BISHTFor more stories on minimal tillage and regenertative agriculture visit: The Regenerative Ag Debate for Growing Potatoes, is it Possible?spudsmart.com/the-regenerative-ag-debate-for-growing-potatoes-is-it-possible/To Till or Not to Till spudsmart.com/to-till-or-not-to-till/Reducing Tillage but Not Quality spudsmart.com/reducing-tillage-but-not-quality/ 12SPUDSMART.COM Spring 2022'