The Forage Radish: Bane of Tillers Everywhere

by fifthseason on September 11, 2012

Imagine a world where you wake to up to find a spring garden freshly tilled. Your back is free of kinks. Your chiropractic bill no longer exists.



Please…no more garden work.


Why? Because the titanic tiller gathering dust in the garage hasn’t eaten dirt since last year.

How is this miracle possible?

Look no further than the forage radish, a burgeoning cover crop  that could end the need for breaking ground with mechanical methods.



Going for the Guinness Book?


Go Deep!

The forage radish–also known as oilseed radish, groundhog radish, and the trademarked tillage radish–has gained in demand with farmers looking for the no-till method. The thick upper part of the radish can root in the dirt over 20 inches. The taproot can go further, reaching several feet!

The method, called “bio-drilling”, breaks up soil compaction and improves soil fertility. Once the radish dies in the winter and its huge roots decompose, deep channels are left behind for new cash crop plantings. The deep impressions left by the radishes allows the new crop to find water more easily in the subsoil as well as being able to handle drought more readily.



Thank you, friendly forage radish, for saving my lone corn crop!


Wait, There’s More!

The forage radish not only prevents tilling, but carries many of the traits of the superstar cover crops.

Here’s some advantages:

Weed Enemy: The radish’s rapidly emerging dense canopy suppresses late fall weed growth. Plus the plant’s allelopathic nature in the soil stifles weed growth even after a winter-kill.

Nutrient Provider Post-Mortem: The radish captures and stores while alive, and then release nutrients back into the soil during decomposition. It also releases a good amount of nitrogen in the early spring, giving young plants the added boost needed to survive the trial months.

Rooting for the Little Guys: Research shows that microbial life grows exponentially after growing the radish for several years.

Erosion Eradication: Radishes reduce runoff from rain residue in the spring. A majority of the water will go into the holes left by the decomposed taproots.


Shoulda used a radish.

Before You Plant…

Make sure to allow the radish plenty of time before the first killing frost (in WNC, that typically happens by mid-November). Plant 3 to 10 weeks beforehand to give the radish plenty of time for optimal growth.

Leafy growth should commence within a week.


Fifth Season proudly carries the trademarked Tillage Radish.




{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: