Setting the stage for growing great crops

The second system I would like to dive into as part of the 3S triangle is pre-plant system.

By this I mean all the elements that go into creating a hospitable environment to receive the transplants or the seeds that will grow to be your crop. The pre-planting system sets the stage for the effective cultivation of vegetable crops.

The components of the Pre-planting Prep System are:

  • Farm layout and design
  • Drainage
  • Irrigation
  • Crop rotation
  • Fertilisation
  • Tillage

Here are some useful questions to consider when taking a closer look a the pre-plant system.

Farm layout and design

  • How are the various physical elements of the farm located with relation to one another?
  • Spaghetti diagram of the flow of people and materials (ie the flow of energy around the farm)
  • Are fields areas split into equal sized blocks?
  • Are field borders and pathways mowed regularly?



  • Does the water table sit low enough under field areas so as to allow proper aeration of the root zone?
  • Does surface water flow away from cropping areas in a controlled manner?
  • Does rain fall percolate rapidly into the soil?
  • Can the fields be worked within 2-4 days of an average rainfall event?
  • Does surface water flow away from farm roads and infrastructure in a controlled manner?



  • Does the farm possess sufficient water reserves to provide 1-2 inches of water to vegetable crop areas per week for a 6-8 week period?
  • Is surface water channeled and captured in retention ponds?
  • Can the entire crop area be irrigated within 4 days with ease?
  • Can irrigation be automated to provide multiple short interval irrigations to key crops?
  • Are crop appropriate irrigation méthodes used? (Drip tape, sprinklers, timing, amount?
  • Is rainfall and soil moisture monitored on a regular basis?
  • How are irrigation decisions made?


Crop Rotation:

  • Is there a systematic crop rotation?
  • What area of each crop family is cultivated?
  • At what frequency do the crop families return to a given block?
  • Are green manures integrated in a systematic manner?
  • Does the rotation decrease the presence of weeds?
  • Are targeted bare fallow or occultation periods used to reduce weed pressure?
  • Does the rotation build or deplete soil health and fertility?
  • Does the rotation include any deep rooted fibrous root systems?
  • Do you have enough crop land to implement the necessary rotation system?
  • Is the soil protected from erosion for the winter?


Tillage and fertilisation:

  • What is the bed prep sequence from start to finish?
  • Are soil profiles used to make decisions regarding the need for deep tillage?
  • Do tillage practices reduce or increase weed pressure?
  • Are stale seedbed techniques used?
  • Is deep tillage followed by deep rooted green manures to stabilize the work?
  • Is the source of fertility (compost, manure) introducing weed seeds?
  • Is the fertilisation regime increasing or decreasing nutrient levels?
  • Is the fertilisation regime balancing or unbalancing nutrient levels? (Especially K vs. Mg)


Quite a bit of food for thought… Bon Appétit !


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