For Immediate Release
September 17, 2004
Contact: Straus Communications
Michael Straus
Cell: (415) 519-8343

For more information, please visit:

The Rodale Institute® receives USDA grant to help farmers reduce chemical use

Kutztown, Penn. — A $541,050 federal grant will enable researchers at The Rodale Institute (TRI) to demonstrate how a new spin on old technology could reduce the need for toxic herbicides in American agriculture.

Used in conjunction with growing soil-nourishing cover crops, it stands to provide both significant environmental benefits and cost savings.

“Our improved ‘no-till’ technology could eliminate the use of 30 million pounds of herbicides every year in the U.S.,” said David Ward, vice president of program development for TRI, which has developed a new tractor implement and crop sequence to reduce herbicide use in major crops such as soy, corn and cotton.

According to the USDA Economic Research Service, 52.5 million acres - or 17.5 percent of all U.S. planted cropland - were in no-till management in 2000.

While traditional tillage and planting techniques leave the soil prone to water and wind erosion, no-till systems plant seeds without turning the soil, significantly reducing soil loss. However, standard no-till requires the uses of large amounts of herbicides to control weeds.

TRI’s modified no-till technology uses a customized, front-mounted metal roller to mechanically kill selected cover crops. In the same tractor pass through the field, a rear-mounted no-till planter seeds the cash crop into narrow slits in the soil. The crushed cover crop forms a weed-suppressing mat of vegetation as the planted crop develops.

Collaborators in ten areas across the United States have agreed to cooperate in demonstrating this technology on farms, using local crop sequences and adaptations.

The grant, provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s $14.25 million Conservation Innovation program, will be presented by Deputy Under Secretary Mack Gray on Thursday morning, Sept. 16, 2004, in Harrisburg, Penn.

The Rodale Institute is a not-for-profit educational and research organization committed to sharing information globally about successful agricultural solutions to health and environmental problems. It was established in 1943.


Editors: Editors: For additional background, please see To schedule interviews, or to obtain retain photos and images, please contact Michael Straus at 415-777-1170,