Friday, November 16, 2007

different season, different crop

These are scenes we'd usually be seeing in the Spring, when it's time to plant the rice. I mentioned that we were planting a winter wheat crop on some transition land. This is where that 100 tons of compost went last week. We have a great worker, named Tony, who spent a day lightly working it into the soil with a "spring tooth". Then it was time to plant. With rice, we broadcast the seed from a crop duster onto a flooded field, but for the wheat we direct seeded. In the first photo Tony is loading the seed into the dril which he then pulls with the small tractor. The drill has a rolling metal disc that cuts a slit in the ground, and the seed drops in before the soil falls back over it. Six hours later, the 40 acres was done. Ah... mechanization. Posted by Picasa

I mentioned that this ground is in "transition". It's ground that was previously planted in conventional rice. To certify it as "organic", no chemicals can be used on it for three years. This is one of the deterrents to farming organically, because there is such a long period of the lower yields organic brings, but without the higher return on the product. A conventional crop of wheat like this would normally have the seed treated with a fungicide even before it goes in the ground. A chemical fertilizer would be added to the ground preparation before planting, and finally, a number of applications of the herbicide 2,4-D would take place over the growing season.

After planting, Mason and Lily (aka "The Babies") check to make sure the seeds were placed at the right depth. Plus they just like to play in the dirt. Who can resist a huge field of dirt to play in? Needless to say, I do a lot of laundry!

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