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Crop Production

Crop Production

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Crop Production

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  1. Sustainable Small Acreage Farming & Ranching Crop Production Crop Management

  2. Managing Crops • Water • Climate • Soil • Pests • Rotations and cover crops • Tillage • Harvest/Post Harvest • Equipment

  3. Water • Capacity – quantity available • Check regulations – water rights • Crop requirements – specific to crop • Irrigation methods • Drip, sprinkler, furrow

  4. Climate • First and last frost dates (growing season) • Average low temperatures (Hardiness zones) • Growing degree days (no. of days accumulated above a certain temperature) • Fruit ripening • Monitoring insects

  5. Working around the Climate • Appropriate varieties/cultivars • Cultural practices • Raised beds • Transplants instead of direct seeding • Season extension tools • Greenhouses • Tunnels • Cold frames • Row covers • Plastic mulches

  6. Season Extension Tools

  7. Season Extension Tools (cont.)

  8. Crop Rotations • Increase biological diversity • Break disease and pest cycles • Nutrients from soil at different depths • Diversify the economics of your operation • Spread out labor needs (through season)

  9. Cover Crops and Green manures • Keep it covered: • Prevent erosion • Shade out weeds • Prevent freezing and thawing of soils • Hosts for beneficial insects • Incorporate it: • Add nitrogen • Increase organic matter

  10. Use of Cover Crops/Green Manures • Identify your problem • N source, fight weeds, soil builder, erosion • Identify when you could fit them into your rotations • late summer, winter, spring ? • Identify the right type of cover crop • Depending on use, what does well

  11. Types of Cover Crops • Clovers (sweet) • Hairy Vetch • Rye • Barley • Medic • Winter peas • Sorghum-sudan grass hybrid

  12. Use of Cover Crops

  13. Soil Cultivation: Purpose • Promote good soil structure • Break up soil pans • Aerate the soil • Incorporate mineral and organic materials • Control weeds • Create particulate seed beds • Mange some pathogens or insects

  14. Soil Cultivation Methods • Deep tillage, shallow tillage, surface cultivation • Timing and type of tillage depends on: • Soil moisture and texture • Climate and season of year • Cropping system • Soil condition

  15. Impacts of Excessive Tillage • Decrease soil organic matter • Reduction in soil biological activity • Destruction of soil aggregates • Reduction of nutrient & water holding capacity • Loss of soil pore space and decreased gas exchange

  16. Conservation Tillage • Initially may require more to incorporate cover crops, organic mater • Improved soils may not need as much • Incorporate more shallow (surface only) • Subsurface tillage equipment - sub-soiler or chisels • Disadvantages: • More herbicides, reduced mineralization of O.M., therefore lower nutrient availability in cold climates

  17. Check out Steve Groff’s web site: Cedar Meadow Farm Permanent Cover Cropping System http://www.cedarmeadowfarm.com/ Minimum Tillage of Vegetables?

  18. Harvest, Handling and Storage • Timing is everything • Don’t forget needs for increased labor • Proper equipment and process • shading, washing, cooling • Sorting and packing • Temperatures for storage

  19. Equipment • What you need vs. what you want • Consider cost/benefit advantages • What you can afford • The right piece for the job • Save for equipment – don’t go in debt