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Tag Archives | crops

Planting By the Moon

The practice of growing food and raising livestock is a calling that urges us to become stronger and hardier. The variables present in natural systems can be overwhelming, and it is only those who are willing to face hard truths and adapt that can truly turn it into a lifestyle.

The top of a scarlet turnip in the ground

Scarlet turnips seeded on a root day develop robust roots instead of leaves, flowers or seeds.

From the outside, the natural world looks extremely chaotic and unpredictable, and to a certain degree, it is. Even the best laid plans can be nullified by unseasonable weather, accidents, disease and a deluge of other unforeseen obstacles and losses. It takes a willful person to persist through these challenges and adapt in ways that lead to success.

The overall effect of this persistence pays off in countless rewards of spiritual and physical importance. To tune oneself to the natural rhythms of this planet with dedication and discipline is to gain insight into how this seeming chaos provides for order and how ambient rhythms guide all life through a cyclical journey here on Earth.

Observation

One of the most important tools a grower can use to become more successful is observation. We must learn about the ecology of the land, in the soil, on and in the plants, in the water and in the air, all while also being able to take these individual pieces and fit them into a broad awareness of the greater natural system as a whole. Continue Reading →

Book excerpt: Rebirth of the Small Family Farm

Front cover image for the book Rebirth of the Small Family FarmThe book “Rebirth of the Small Family Farm” is a concise handbook for starting a successful organic farm based on the community-supported agriculture concept. The authors, Bonnie and Bob Gregson, illustrate how they – two self-described “middle-aged novices” – made a decent living on less than 2 acres of land.

This is not just a theory book — it details specific tools, techniques and how-to information, which can be utilized by beginning and advanced farmers alike.

The excerpt below comes from Chapter 3, titled, “Key Factors to Success.” The authors go into detail for each of the 10 identified factors, including having like-minded partners, organic growing, physical ability, ongoing education, direct marketing, location close to consumers, value-added products, and more. Continue Reading →

2019 Farming Evolution Event to Feature Christine Jones

The 2019 Farming Evolution event will be held Tuesday and Wednesday, February 20 & 21, 2019. The Phillips County Event Center on the Fairgrounds just north of Holyoke, CO, will house the event.

Speakers

Christine Jones

Christine Jones head and shoulders

Christine Jones, a soil ecologist from Australia, will be the headline speaker. Over several decades, Jones has worked with farmers and ranchers using renewing practices. After a highly respected career in the public sector, she began to promote the benefits of soil carbon throughout the world. Continue Reading →

Setting the Table to Optimize Fertilizers, Soil Amendments

By using detailed measurements and specifically formulated procedures for controlling nutrient excesses and deficiencies in soils, it is possible to define, measure and manage soil fertility to help grow crops of the highest quality.

Corn leavesWhether trees, vines or cane crops, when it comes down to fertility, there are three very specific considerations that woody plants need to perform at their very best. The same is true for vegetables, grasses, legumes and small grain crops. Those needs are adequate water infiltration, proper environment for soil life and the correct amount of nutrients to supply that life and the crop via plant root uptake.

It is a big mistake to consider that just adding enough fertilizer to grow the crop is what determines soil fertility. There is far more to it than that, and if not correctly understood this can be very costly to those trying to survive and profit from such land. On the other hand, once these principles are understood and put into practice, it is like finding the road map to building up land for achieving its top performance. Continue Reading →

Plant Stress & Proline

In his 1995 State of the Union speech, President Bill Clinton highlighted a USDA program addressing plant stress as an example of wasteful “pet project” government spending. We knew then, and know even more now, that plant stress is a very significant yield-and-quality-robbing factor in agricultural crops to which little attention has been paid.

Test tubes in a row of plant proline samples

Samples ready for instrument analysis. Even without precision and absolute instrument analysis, comparative differences in proline (plant stress) levels can be clearly seen.

We try to optimize fertility, irrigation, weed and pest management practices to achieve the best production under the constraints of environment and economics. However, it has become clear that plant stress comes from everything we try to control; it is additive and it can be cumulative — resulting in loss of yield and quality potential.

For the grower, visual detection of plant stress often comes too late to do anything more than damage control by preventing further loss of yields and quality for the season. One visually obvious “too late” example is dropped squares and bolls in cotton. Another is shed flowers and pods or a predominance of two and three-bean pods in soybeans if stress is present early on, or empty pods if stress occurs later.

In plant health, as in human health, there are signs, although they may not be obvious, that stress is present. The trick is in detecting and interpreting those signs – ideally, before they can be seen. This is evidenced by many of us having annual physical check-ups and blood (in the case of plants, sap) tests to detect “hidden” problems. Certain biological signals accumulate in the plant during periods of stress. They are produced in response to environmental stresses such as water, light, temperature and salinity. Their appearance signals that something is hindering normal plant growth and development with consequent loss of yields and quality. Continue Reading →

Reducing Food Waste: Compost Production Recovers Nutrients for Soil Benefits

When you consider our nation’s health, the quality of our food, its decreasing nutritional value and the increased degradation of our farmland, it’s not a pretty picture — and the challenges related to these issues keep growing.

Green waste used as part of a mixture of ingredients for compost.

By 2050 the world’s population will likely reach close to 9 billion people. To feed everyone, we’ll need to globally produce more food. Yet, almost 40 percent of food currently produced ends up in landfills.

According to ReFED, a collaboration of over 50 business, nonprofit, foundation and government leaders committed to reducing food waste in the United States, American consumers, businesses and farms spend $218 billion per year growing, processing, transporting and disposing of food waste.

Food waste is a global problem. The 2017 Food Sustainability Index ranks 34 countries from best to worst. In France, No. 1 on the Index, supermarkets don’t toss food approaching its sell-by date; they must donate it to charities or food banks. This has lowered the country’s annual wastage to 1.8 percent of its total food production. Germany, Spain and Italy, which follow close behind, also scored high with agriculture-related conservation and research and nutrition education. Continue Reading →