- Building soil health, by minimizing tillage and optimizing crop rotations;
- Weed control, which requires significant tillage;
- Cash Cropping every year for economic viability, which pressures growers to chose sub-optimal crop rotations.
Finding the proper balance between these competing tensions is difficult. Frequently growers are forced to sacrifice one of these goals. Increased tillage and monoculture have been utilized to maximize short-term financial success, but this is not sustainable due to the impact on soil health.
Incorporating un-composted municipal leaves and other community organic wastes into a modified farm crop rotation is a sustainable method addressing all three goals. Using this method over the long term, farms require less tillage, fertilizer input is decreased, and risks of crop loss due to flooding, drought, and disease are decreased. The use of un-composted leaves on New Jersey soils increases farm profitability and is environmentally sound.
Muth Family Farm
Through the years, the Muth Farm has gained recognition as one of the leading regional farms in areas of sustainable agriculture, soil development, community supported agriculture, and organic farming.
The Multiple Soil Health & Economic Benefits of Applying Municipal Collected Un-Composted Waste Leaves To Farmland. A review of methods used on the Muth Family farm of Williamstown, NJ.
- Leaf Mulching in New Jersey – 10 Year Impacts Research Summary. Daniel Kluchinski.
- Leaves From City Shade Trees Benefit Soils. Joe Heckman. 2000.
- Net Usable Quantities Available in Dry Tons. Information on how many dry tons of leaves and grass clippings every New Jersey County collects, current as of 2007.
- Comparing growing potatoes organically and conventionally using leaves as mulch. Mel Henninger. 2008. Cultural practices, dates, and observations.
- Pumpkin Grown on Leaf Mulch Produces Large Attractive Fruit and Builds Soil Quality. Joe Heckman/Andy Wyenandt. 2007. Benefits using municipal leaves to mulch pumpkin crops. PowerPoint slide show
- Agronomics of Land Application of Municipal Shade Tree Leaves: I. Soil Properties. Heckman and Kluchinski. 2000. Journal of Sustainable Agriculture Vol. 17(2/3). 2000.
- Agronomics of Land Application of Municipal Shade Tree Leaves: II. Soybean and Corn Production. Heckman and Kluchinski. 2000. Journal of Sustainable Agriculture Vol. 17(2/3).
- Chemical Composition of Municipal Leaf Waste and Hand-Collected Urban Leaf Litter. Heckman and Kluchinski. 1996. J. of Env. Qual. Vol. 25, No. 2.
- Pumpkin Fruit Size and Quality Improve with Leaf Mulch. Using municipal leaves as mulch on pumpkin. Andy Wyenandt/Joe Heckman. HortTechnology. July–September 2008 18(3).
- Utilization of Community Leaves for Improving Orchard Soil Quality. SARE, 2003.
- Plant Nutrients available in municipal collected shade tree leaves.
Rutgers Fact Sheet FS824. Heckman and Kluchinski, 1998.
- Getting started in municipal leaf application.
Rutgers Fact Sheet FS820. Kluchinski, 1996.
- Municipal Leaf application, incorporation, and economics.
Rutgers Fact Sheet FS821. Kluchinski, Heckman and Derr, 1996.
- Municipal leaf application effects on soils, crop yield, and pests.
Rutgers Fact Sheet FS822. Kluchinski, Heckman, Mahar, Kelly, 1996.
- Effects of mulching blueberry plants with cranberry fruits and leaves on yield, nutrients and weeds. Uta Krogmann, 2008.
- Guidelines for land application of organic wastes (food processing a nd municipal yard) on farmland. Bulletin E-281, Uta Krogmann, 2002.