Ray Archuleta
Teaches About Soil Health
(This Is An Excellent Presentation!)

Dateline: 7 September 2016

My re-interest in cover cropping and soil health, along with a recent comment here about no-till farming (a subject I have been somewhat ignorant about), has led me to watch some YouTube videos on the subject of soil health. 

It so happens that there are a LOT of videos on the subject. None struck me as particularly good and comprehensive introductions to the subject of soil health... until I came to the multi-part series (Part 1 above) showing a presentation given by Ray Archuleta last year.

I like this guy, Ray Archuleta. I like him a lot. What he says, where he's coming from, and what he wants to accomplish really resonates with me. 

Although Ray is speaking primarily to farmers, his discussion about soil health is just about entirely applicable to gardeners looking to improve their garden soil.

Ray has completely convinced me that I'm on the right track with my renewed interest in cover crops as green manures. And, better yet, he has helped me to see that my intuitive thinking that green manure crops do NOT need to be tilled into the soil is accurate. Beyond that, I think he has given me reason to seriously consider a much-much-less-if-at-all approach to tilling or cultivating my garden soil (a direction I've been slowly moving towards).

So, needless to say, I heartily recommend this 4-part YouTube series to all of my gardening friends out there. Here are the other episodes...


  1. Thank you, Herrick for sharing these videos. I watched the first one and am convinced! I had already subscribed on Youtube because of JM Fortier's series, but did not know about these. This channel "Living Web Farms" has a great variety of farming videos useful for gardening. Thank you again. I am also really enjoying my visits to your "Upland".

    1. Hi Cheryl,

      Ray Archuleta is passionate about soil health and it is contagious. I am planning to do a slake test on my garden soil. I'm afraid it will fizz apart like an Alka Seltzer tablet. :-) I'm also going to test a clump of soil that has been under plastic in my garden for the past three years. And my field soil, which has not been cultivated for four years. And maybe I'll test my neighbor's conventional-farmed soybean field. I'll definitely check out the other videos on that YouTube channel. They did an excellent job filming the event.

  2. Thanks. I watched these 4 last night and the next 5 in the same series. Very interesting. I need to try some of this. John

    1. John,

      I watched the others today. All very informative. Paradigm changing!

  3. I've been following Ray's work for a couple of years now, among others of the NRCS. They are doing amazing work in an organization (USDA) that is not always in alignment with what they are trying to teach people. Ray has led many farmers to adopt techniques that are not just sustainable, but regenerative (like Jesus Christ regenerates us). Cover crops are the key to any no-till approach. Devising the right mix of cover crop seed (even at small scale) is based on the needs of that soil. You could even put animals on top of your mature cover crop (sheep, goats, rabbits) that can even turn that cover crop top into protein. But, that's another discussion. If someone wanted to accelerate the decomposition of the cover crop, they can "crimp" the cover crop (not till it in) so that it creates a biomass mat of some depth holding in moisture, suppressing weeds and encouraging soil biota development. This is why the development of roller-crimpers is growing as a needed implement in eco-agriculture. These roller-crimpers can even be used on small scale pulled by a lawn tractor or ZTR mower or walk-behind. The Rodale Institute has conducted much research on the use of a roller-crimper and even provides free downloadable plans for a metal fabrication of a large roller-crimper for a tractor.
    For you and your readers, Herrick, I'm listing below several links to videos of no-till farming information and roller-crimper information:

    Gabe Brown (North Dakota)
    "Keys to Building a Healthy Soil" https://youtu.be/9yPjoh9YJMk
    "Gabe Brown Talks Cover Crops" https://youtu.be/J_L5n4VnEXo

    "Rodale Institute No-till Roller Crimper" https://youtu.be/PW4mwVJPS9A

    1. Hi Dan,

      Thanks for the links. I have already watched "Keys To Building Healthy Soil" and it was excellent. I'll check out the others, for sure. I had a feeling you were already some distance ahead of me on this topic.

  4. Haven't watched the videos yet but I will. Sounds a bit like the message in the book "The One Straw Revolution" by Masanobu Fukuoka. BTW, Herrick, since you have a BCS there are roller crimpers made for it. Just do a web search.

    1. vdeal—

      I need to read that book. I have a general idea of the contents and, yes, I think it's similar. Roller crimper for the BCS? Wow, I should have thought to look. My BCS is now almost never used any more. I tilled my very small potato plot with it this year and that was all. I won't need a roller crimper for the relatively small-scale garden applications I'm interested in. I'll just use an cheap battery operated grass trimmer with the sickle bar attachment to cut the stalks in sections starting from the top down, or the whole plant at the bottom. Worked great on the buckwheat.