BCS tractor will increase soil health and fertility

  • Written by Madeline Coats
Anthony Reyes demonstrated the new two-wheeled tractor at 21 Acres Jan. 22. The machine will use low- and no-till techniques. Madeline Coates|Woodinville Weekly 


Local Rotarians, led by climate advocate Erv DeSmet, took action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and lessen the impacts of climate change. The group recently donated funds for a new BCS tractor at 21 Acres.

Public relations consultant Benda Vanderloop said the BCS will help to create “a resilient, nutritious food source” for the community. The machine can both mitigate climate change and help in weather extremes, such as floods and droughts. 

The two-wheeled tractor will increase soil health and fertility at the farm through low- and no-till techniques. Vanderloop said the machine is designed for smaller farms with standard 30-inch beds. 

No-till farming is an agricultural way of growing crops or pasture without disturbing the soil through tillage. These practices preserve the dirt’s structure and ecosystem by increasing nutrients, decreasing erosion, preserving moisture and keeping carbon underground. 

“One of the hopes and goals of the crop system is to be incorporating as much cover crop as possible, which is challenging when trying to do no-till,” said Anthony Reyes, farm operations lead.

The walk-behind tractor connects to different implements with low-impact technology. The nearly $12,000 purchase includes four attachments: Rotary Power Harrow, Flail Mower, Rinaldi Drop Seeder and Zanon Mower.

Reyes said the Rotary Power Harrow is the only attachment classified as low-till. The apparatus twists the top two inches of soil to incorporate layers of cover crop residue, which prepares seedbeds for direct sowings and transplants. 

“The implement isn’t tilling any of the land, it is mixing,” said Liesl McWhorter, co-director of 21 Acres. “The work was done by hand for the last two years.”

The Drop Seeder will also be used to administer regimens of cover crops. McWhorter said the equipment allows for better seed-to-soil and transplant-to-soil contact.

“The mowing is critical to the success of a low-till or no-till operation,” she said.

Reyes said the Flail Mower attachment will focus on terminating cover crops by mulching it down to a size that is more easily decomposed. The mower can also be used to manage blackberries. 

Lastly, the Zanon Mower will handle larger areas of reed canary grass, as well as landscaping needs. This implement acts more like a deck mower, but with a little more versatility. 

The BCS was purchased with a donation from Sammamish Valley Alliance, which was funded by members of the Woodinville Rotary Club. DeSmet said the purchase was a result of partnerships within the community and efforts to engage younger generations in the climate change fight.

“Everybody benefits. It’s not just one group,” he said.

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