Archive for the ‘Farm News’ Category

Too Dry Then Too Wet

Wednesday, January 9th, 2019

As of late November all my fields were dry and hard since there had been but a brief rain in early October. The photo at right shows the amount of crop residue that was left from last year. Amongst that was a thick mat of medusahead, an invasive exotic grass that suppresses other seeds than its own. Though I’m trying not to disrupt the soil biology, this year I really needed to suppress that invasive grass with some soil disturbance.

 

Close to Thanksgiving I thought a window was opening with a little rain that would soften the soil so I bought organic fertilizer for a cash crop and seed for the cover crop. Then it started to rain and has kept on with only short breaks ever since. Now it is early January with no break in sight. I am hoping for some drying later this month or next that would allow me to plant all my fields. I must plant the cover crop one way or another to meet my USDA contract, but the cash crop is uncertain.

 

It’s clear that the weather patterns that prevailed over my first seven years of grain farming are no longer holding. This highly changeable weather is what climate warming models have predicted. It seems even more important to persist in this regenerative farming effort to see if I can create some resilience model that would grow crops no matter what the weather does.

No-till Project

Thursday, December 1st, 2016
NRCS staff Pa Yang, Litza Lopez-Ramos, and Han Nguyen

NRCS staff Pa Yang, Litza Lopez-Ramos, and Han Nguyen

As I mentioned in my last post, uncertain weather the last few years and weed problems have pushed me towards an experiment with no-till grain growing. As part of the process I need baseline information about the health of my soils. I applied to the Yuba/Sutter Natural Resources Conservation Service office, a federal agency that tries to do what the name says. They have funding each year to help with projects that conserve soil, water, and air. No-till and cover crops fall under those tasks.

 

The first step was for the staff of NRCS to come out and do soil tests on each field for soil texture, worm count, ph, bulk density, carbon dioxide extraction, salts, and water infiltration rate. I am doing regular soil testing for organic matter, nitrogen, calcium, magnesium, sulfur, manganese, boron and cation exchange capacity. All that shows what the chemical balance in the soil is like and what’s deficient. Testing in following years will show what the effects of no-till are.

 

A couple weeks ago Pa Yang, Han Nguyen, and Litza Lopez-Ramos came out to the farm with their equipment and I helped some while they did their tests on two of the fields. Last week they came and did the other two fields. They will do lab tests and then put a report together with my soil tests. Then I can apply for funding to help with the project.

Han doing the CO2 extraction test

Han doing the CO2 extraction test

counting worms

counting worms