Tag Archives: farm

Battle Royale Pt 2 – Sustainability

1935 USDA Yearbook of Agriculture; A different time with different solutions

I find it necessary to address the sustainability of each of the methods of growing that I will be comparing in my Battle Royale. Sustainability is very important to consider when undertaking any agricultural venture. When I say sustainability I mean it very literally, not just speaking from an environmental standpoint. Can this method be sustained indefinitely under the current or foreseeable future conditions?

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A Poem

The ice glistens,
The fire crackles,
The joints creak,
The tea steams,
The soup boils,
The mind turns inward.

The winter approaches.

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Progress or …?

One of my best sources of information in the agronomic field has been the USDA Yearbooks of Agriculture. Having access to studies from 130 years ago up until the end of publishing in 1992 has been a boon for my education. It is hard not to notice, however, the stark changes in the writing styles over those years, and the perceived shift in the target audience based on the tone of the writing. Here I will present a contrast of two randomly selected excerpts to illustrate my point.

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Subsoiler aka Chisel Plow (not a hand tool)

In my last post (Battle Royale (Agrarian Style)) I revealed that I have indeed used a tool on a tractor to accomplish an agrarian goal. I used a single shank subsoiler, aka chisel plow or ripper, to help prepare a hillside to become a productive orchard. There were definitely ways that I could have used hand tools only to suit this purpose, but it would have taken years worth of work and crop rotations. This solution allowed me to jump ahead with minimal investment of time and money, and with minimal negative consequences. Read on if you are interested in the reasons behind this exception to my rule (Hand Tools: The Simple Choice).

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Filed under agrarianism, hand tools, homesteading, pond, soil, trees, Uncategorized, water

Battle Royale (Agrarian Style)

Garden with a view

I am starting new gardens from scratch this year, and in the interest of learning new things in new places, I have set up an experiment to compare a few different methods of gardening. I will keep this as brief as possible, and expound upon each of these methods as I update you with progress reports over the following years. Each bed will be planted in the spring with potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, and an assortment of vegetables, along with a row of sunflowers and buckwheat. I have no expectations or knowledge of how the results will look, this experiment is purely out of curiosity and I am excited to see how the different methods turn out. How will they yield, handle drought, soaking rains, etc?

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Crop Rotation and Diversification

Image scanned from 1938 USDA Yearbook of Agriculture "Soils and Men" - Article: "Crop Rotation" by Clyde Leighty

Image scanned from 1938 USDA Yearbook of Agriculture “Soils and Men” – Article: “Crop Rotation” by Clyde Leighty

The concept of crop rotation is not a new idea. It is an idea as old as agriculture. Crop rotation, simply put, is growing a variety of plants in a planned manner to ensure that one species is not grown in the same field for multiple years in a row. It requires a certain amount of diversification, and on the larger industrial scale it can present problems in the need for many different equipment schemes for planting and harvesting. Modern agriculture ‘solves’ this dilemma by ‘scientifically’ replacing, in the form of fertilizer, what it considers to be all of the nutrients that the crop has removed from the soil in the previous year, and replanting that same crop. There are many problems with this plan that are not in the scope of this article to address.

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The Farm Pond

Farm_pond_in_jasper_county_iowa

Every farm must have water to function. There are many quite different solutions to this problem from the point of view of crop-raising, from overhead sprinklers to underground drip irrigation, from canal irrigation to raised beds, from biodynamic double digging to hugelkultur. Each of these methods has its own positives and negatives, more importantly they each have a particular environment in which they are the best choice for that space. In areas where there is a kind of rolling topography and a good proportion of clay in the soil, the farm pond shines due to its ease of engineering. Where you have a watershed of two or more acres, you can build a sizable pond. It can be as simple (not easy: simple) as building a straight line dam from one rolling hill to the next.

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