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 BLOG >> Recent

Soil preparation [Agriculture
Posted on May 9, 2013 @ 10:59:00 PM by Paul Meagher

I spent the most of my time from monday to wednesday preparing my soil for the upcoming planting season. I rototilled my 4 garden plots (one is going fallow, one will be planted with vegtables, one will be planted with herbs and stawberries, one will be planted with malting barley and other grain crops that I might want to experiment with). I rototilled 12 strip tills for grape vines I will be planting this year. I don't think I'll have enough rooted grape cuttings to cover 6 tills so some of these tills could theoretically be used for planting vegetables if I wanted to. I also plowed about 2-3 acres of land that were overtaken with low quality forage weeds that I wanted to get rid off (Juncus Effusus), and the only way I think you can do it is by plowing them under. I never plowed land before so this was a big learning experience for me. Plowing is only the first step, there are many more steps involved to get a soil surface that can be planted into. I'm probably looking at about 25-30 more hours of tractor work to get this section of my field in shape again and I'm not sure exactly how I'll do this yet. This is somewhat stressful for me because I am a weekend and vaction farmer so I'm not sure where I'll get the time to devote to assemble the necessary equipment or do the work.

Farming is alot like entrepreneurship generally insofar as there is uncertaintly every step of the way. I don't know if my crop of potatoes and vegetable squash will grow in my rotted hay media, I don't know if I'll be able to sell what I produce or what price I'll get, I don't know if I'll have the time to reap what I have sown. I'll never know unless I do it. When one uncertainty is elimated (it grows), then I can tackle the next stage of uncertaintly (how to sell it).

Entrepreneurship is defined by the leval of uncertainty associated with new ventures. Non-established farmers are all entrepreneurs dealing with high-levels of uncertaintly. Farmers are probably navigating a degree of risk that is greater than what many non-farm entrepreneurs face. Why? Because the startup costs are significant (tractor, tractor equipment, seeding, fuel, soil amendments, fertilizers, etc...) compared to, for example, starting up an internet-based business. Most startup farmers today work off-farm to finance their farm startups. That is what I am doing and it is not something I anticipate will change after this season of planting.

Why do I do it? Because there is magic in seeing something that you have planted grow into something that can feed people, because a life spent in front of a computer is not what I imagined for myself, because there is a physical element to the work that I want embrace, and last but not least, because I enjoy the aesthetics of the land that I'm working on.

The ultimate test of whether you are a farmer is whether you can run a profitable farming enterprise. I haven't set high goals in this regards for this year as I'm still experimenting and I still have time to experiment before the taxman will come ofter me for claiming farm-related writeoffs.

What is different about this year of farming compared to last year is two main aspects: 1) in previous years I have focused on fixing buildings (ashphalt roofing, cedar shingling, fixing foundations, new doors, windows, gutters, etc...) , and not farming per se, 2) this year I have more time to focus on farming and establishing what techniques and what products might be profitable. So this year is a test for me as to whether I have what it takes to be a farmer. Again, I'm not expecting to achieve a high level of success this year as a farmer, but I do expect to have a better sense of what it takes to be a farmer next year when I think this can start to be a profitable enterprise again (5 years after acquiring the property).

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