North Farm Cropping Systems
Village Farm Team,
We’re continuing this week with implementing various cropping systems on the farm. Though all of the beds on the South Farm are set up in the soil raised bed system, the North Farm will incorporate several different systems. Here’s what you can expect to see on the North Farm:
- Permanent Ground Cloth System – the beds are covered completely with a black, woven polypropylene that will last between five to ten years. This material helps to suppress weeds, protect the soil from the sun, and involves little waste output as it lasts for several years. The downside to this system is that once it is in place, we can’t improve the soil and can only use liquid fertilizers.
- Plastic Mulch System – the beds are covered in a thin, black plastic and the soil is mounded up on either side of the furrow. This system suppresses weeds and is overall low maintenance. While this system also suppresses weeds well, the downside is that the plastic must be replaced and thrown out every season. In other areas of the country there are recycling facilities for this material, but in our area this system is not as sustainable due to the lack of recycling options.
- Raised Bed System with Vegetated Furrows – the beds are left bare and the furrows between them are allowed to fill in with natural vegetation (i.e. "weeds"). The roots of the vegetation that grow in the furrows help to prevent soil erosion, provide carbohydrates to soil biology, and provide a natural habitat for beneficial insect life. This system requires more weed management but the soil can be continuously amended. This system is also easier for the farm team to work in and produces no plastic waste.
- Flat Ground System – no beds are built up in this system as crops are planted directly in unmodified ground. Though this is a popular system for certain types of crops, anything can be grown. The major downside to this system is water drainage, especially if there are soils present with higher clay content (like ours). Clay holds onto water and does not drain as well as sandy soils. This system will mainly be implemented in the sandier soils in the Village Farm that have formed closest to Oyster Creek.
Our sunn hemp cover crop on both the North and South Farms has been loving the sunshine and rain! The farm team discovered this week that it serves a dual purpose: in addition to helping out the health of the soil, the animals think it’s a mighty tasty treat. Both the goats and chickens come running when they see the farm team approaching in the hopes that they will have some sunn hemp in their hands. It’s sure proving to be a win-win situation for us when it comes to the mighty sunn hemp.
The Agmenity Farm Team