To Till or Not to Till? Building Soil Organically - a workshop for ag advisors by OATS

One of the great questions in farming is whether or not to till the soil. Though progress has been made on organic no-till systems, most organic field crop farmers rely on tillage to control weeds and to prepare a good seedbed. At this field day, ag professionals and anyone interested will take a look into how much tillage is used on organic farms and how to protect and enhance the soil on their client’s organic field crop farms.

OATS Podcast "The Dirt on Organic Farming" -- Episode 1: Moldboards and Dust Clouds, Organic Has a Tillage Problem


  • 9:00 a.m. -- WELCOME
  • 9:15 a.m. -- Tillage in organic field Crop Production
    (Mallory Krieger, OATS)
  • 9:40 a.m. -- National Organic Program 101
    (Mallory Krieger, OATS)
  • 10:00 a.m. -- Implementing tillage judiciously on working farms
    (Joel Gruver, Ph.D., Wester Illinois University)
  • 11:00 a.m. -- Farmer Panel: Tillage in organic and strategies to protect the soil
    (Matt Leavitt, Albert Lea Seed-moderator, Doug Alert, and Eric Madsen)
  • 12:00 p.m. -- LUNCH
  • 1:30 p.m. -- Tour of Levi Lyle’s farm and Iowa State University’s on-farm research
    (Levi Lyle, Kathleen Delate, Ph.D, Iowa State University)
  • 3:30 p.m. -- Post-tour Discussion
  • 4:00 p.m. -- ADJOURN

COST:  $50 for non-IOA members; $25 for IOA members (includes lunch)

Are you a CCA? We have applied for CEUs. Check back soon for more information on the number of credits we can provide.

REGISTRATION is required for this event, please RSVP below.

FARM HOST:  Levi Lyle & Kathleen Delate, Ph.D.

Levi and his family farm near Keota, IA. They raise organic corn and soybeans and as well as, aronia berries, tart cherries, and various other fruits.  Levi’s Indigenous Fruit Enterprises (LIFE) seeks to facilitate the profitability and sustainability of small farms. Previously an organic inspector, Levi now consults farmers transitioning to organic certified production. He recently started the Levi Lyle Podcast where thought-leaders and out-of-the-box thinking is provided a platform. He has two published books, available at and was a guest storyteller for PFIs 2022 winter conference.

Dr. Delate leads the ISU Extension organic research and extension program. Her research focuses on nutrient and pest management strategies that enhance production while lowering agriculture’s environmental footprint. She works in Ames, Iowa, and at the ISU Neely-Kinyon Farm in Greenfield, Iowa. In addition to hosting the Annual Iowa Organic Conference each November, she offers a “Transitioning to Organic” course every other year at ISU - the next one being offered in January 2023.

FARM TOUR: Kathleen and Lyle will discuss the research they have been conducting on organic no-till in corn and soybean production since 2020 through a USDA-NRCS-Conservation Innovation Grant in collaboration with the University of Wisconsin-Madison and The Rodale Institute.  Their research is focused on crop emergence, cover crop biomass and longevity, weed populations, insect pests and yield, as well utilizing alternative methods to terminate cover crops and manage weeds (I & H roller-crimper vs. a Dawn ZRX™ roller and WeedZapper™).  This research will provide organic producers the information and tools to help reduce tillage and offer best practice recommendations about planting dates and equipment settings.

Huge thanks to our regional planning committee:

  • Roz Lehman, IOA
  • Matt Leavitt, Albert Lea Seed
  • Craig Tomera, Grain Millers
  • Kathleen Delate, Iowa State University
  • Erin Silva, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Funder Acknowledgement:

This material is based upon work that is supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, under agreement number 2020-38640-31522 through the North Central Region SARE program under project number H008568303. USDA is an equal opportunity employer and service provider. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

July 18, 2022 at 9:00am - 4pm
Wooden Wheel Vineyard
Keota, IA 52248
United States
Google map and directions
Olga Reding · · 515-412-4802
Lavern Mast Samuel Miller Madsen Organic Seed Doug Alert Matt Leavitt Joel Gruver Levi Lyle Kathleen Delate Mallory Krieger George Naylor Olga Reding

Will you come?

$50.00 Non-member Registration
$25.00 IOA Member Registration