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
- Crop rotation
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?
- 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 !