Are you farming using your monkey brain?

You are the weak link in your business… and always will be!! (it’s normal). The problem is that you’re probably running your business with your monkey brain most of the time.


Enter life coaching…

But wait… Isn’t life coaching just a bunch of WooWoo BS for people from California? What the heck does life coaching have to do with farmers?  Well, actually, it turns out that farmers are people too!! 

Over the past 2 years, I’ve had the pleasure of coaching 29 clients: From California to Nova Scotia, from Yellowknife (North Pole) to Guadalajara… and in between. My clients have come from a wide range of farm and food-related businesses: solo-farmer micro-farms, semi-mechanized CSA/Market farms, local food restaurants and caterers, bio-intensive market gardens, sustainable forest engineers, wholesale vegetable farms, cannabis/cannabis seed producers (with licenses), life coaches, grain elevator executives, and cut flower farmers. 

The bottom line is that in all these businesses, the weak link is always the owner/manager. The process of addressing this and leveling up your business skills always starts by learning to use the brain in a more intentional manner. 

Your brain is 40 000 years old!

You basically have 3 types of brain (ok… if you’re a neuroscientist, do excuse the gross simplification here).

Your reptilian brain is in charge of the basic life functions: blinking eyes, beating hearts, breathing, organ function, etc… in other words the full gamut of the miracle of living in a physical body!! The reptilian brain is associated with the brainstem and the cerebellum.

Your monkey brain is in charge of keeping us alive, fed, and reproducing. It’s what we call the ‘fight, flight, or freeze’ response. It’s that little internal voice that goes from doubt to worry and back to worry again. It’s on the lookout for danger and is ready to react a moment’s notice in order to keep us alive (if you’ve ever narrowly dodged a deer on the highway, you have your monkey brain to thank!) The monkey mind is also known as the limbic brain and is associated with the hippocampus and the amygdala.

Your neocortex where the magic happens. This is where we hold the ability for creative thinking, innovation, love, advanced language. This is where your authentic voice of wisdom resides. The evolved human brain first evolved in primates and is associated with a larger neocortex.

Don’t believe everything you think

The thing is…. 

So often we’re acting from our monkey mind. The monkey mind hates risk. The monkey mind has no understanding of creativity, innovation, and nuance. The monkey mind makes no distinction between a stressful email and seeing a saber tooth tiger; the body responds in the same way. While the monkey mind is so useful for keeping us alive, it’s not adapted to modern life and it’s definitely not the best for running a successful business. 

It is so easy and normal for our neocortex to be hijacked by our amygdala, especially in times of stress or when we’re trying something new. 

This is the first purpose of life coaching; To support you to clearly see when you are acting from your Monkey Mind, and learn the tools and techniques to shift your attention back to thoughts actually worth thinking about. 

Your turn

Where is one area of your life or your farm where your monkey mind may be hindering your success? (Success is so personal. Personally, I love this definition: Doing what you said you would do with clarity focus ease and grace.)

What would become possible if you more consistently acted from your authentic voice of wisdom?

Supercharge your winter with these farmer routines

Image result for jon snow
Winter is coming!

What a great time to rest, recharge, reflect on the current farming season, plan for the future, and prepare for the coming growing season! This week we’re looking at how to use routines, habits, and rhythms to support you in accomplishing what is most important to you this winter.

Decision Fatigue

Will power is an amazing human ability, but the fact of the matter is that we are the products of our environment and our routines/habits. 

The power of routines and habits cannot be underestimated: they free up our brain for creative thinking by alleviating decision fatigue. 

Every decision we take requires energy. Whether that decision is what to have for breakfast, whether to join a new farmers market, where to put away the row cover for the winter, what to bring with you to market or what to wear today: all these decisions require the same amount to brain energy (glucose). Every day, we start off with a certain amount of decisional capacity which is used throughout the day.

The question is: how do you want to use your daily supply of decision making energy?

(this is why people like Steve Jobs, Barack Obama, and Mark Zuckerberg always wear the same clothes… one less useless decision to make.)

Your brain is for having ideas, not storing them.

It turns out that the human brain is really bad at trying to remember things, but really, really good at finding creative solutions to problems that are immediately in front of it. 

The issue is that the part of the brain that is in charge of remembering things has no sense of time. When you’re trying to remember to flame weed the carrots in 6-9 days from now, your mind thinks you need to be doing that all the time. You can see how this would create a low level of chronic stress. 

The Power of Routines

This is where routines and habits come in. Routines allow us to make certain recurring decisions once and not have to use precious brain energy on them every time. In addition, routines free up our brains from having to remember all the stuff we want to do. The purpose of routines is not to constrain you… quite the contrary. The purpose of routines is to free up your brain to focus on creativity and innovation.   

There are several types of routines, but the basic premise is the same: what recurring behavior would support you in taking your farm to the next level ? what pieces of information do you need to be reminded of ? and at which key moments in time?

Farm production systems, SOPs (standard operating procedures), and checklists are just codified versions of routines and habits. They are how routines and habits are expressed at an organizational level on your farm.

Rest and Recharge Routines

Soooo important! And so overlooked!!!

It’s easy to think that the solution to having too much to do is to work more. Unfortunately, this creates a negative feedback loop whereby the more you work, the less energy you have, and the poorer the decisions you make. 

The amazing thing is that a relatively small amount of time intentionally dedicated to rest and recharge can have a huge impact on energy levels. 

What 15-minute routine would allow you to rest and recharge? This can be in the morning to set the stage for the day or at the end of the day to transition out of work mode. 

What 1-hour weekly activity would feel great to you? A weekly bubble bath? Reading a book? Yoga class? Cooking?

The point here is that what matters more than the actual amount of time is that you are sending yourself a clear message: you are being intentional about carving out time for rest and recharge every day and every week!!

Finally, there’s the question of sleep… What time do you want to go to bed? Shut off your devices at least 1 hour before!!! I invite you to use the ScreenTime function on iOs or the Freedom app on android to literally lock yourself off your devices at a given time each night. Not only does this allow your mind to start to calm down, but in addition, it limits your exposure to the blue light of screens which messes with your circadian cycles (blue light = wake up, red light = sleep… think of the blue light of the pre-dawn moments and the red light of dusk).

Innovation and creativity routines

There are 3 roles on the farm: worker, manager, and captain.

Let’s imagine we’re cutting a trail through the jungle. The workers are the ones swinging the machetes. Behind them are the managers; measuring results, scheduling the shifts, determining the best machetes to use. 

Then there’s the captain. They’re the one who climbs up the tree to take a lookout at the horizon. And sometimes… they even realize they aren’t even in the right damn jungle!!! (to which, the managers usually reply “Nevermind! We’re making great progress.”

Unfortunately, while the role of the captain is the most important role, it’s not urgent… and so, so we push it off I’m too busy and “don’t have the time”  to stop and just think… sound familiar? The thing is, you don’t have the time not to take the time to stop and reflect. 

Take out your schedule, planner, calendar etc.

Now, block out 1 hour per week dedicated entirely to your role as captain. 

This is not the time to plan out your week. This is the time to look out at the horizon of your life and gain perspective. This is time to think creatively about your business. This is the time to see what is seeking to grow and emerge in your business. I suggest you have somewhere to take notes during the week that you want to focus on during this weekly captain’s hour.

This is a sacred, uninterrupted time. Remember, the purpose of this time is to help you stay focused on your most important transformational outcome that you are seeking to produce in the next 2-3 years.

The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing!

Administrative routines

This is one area where having checklists of what needs to be done at what frequency is so useful!

What are the things you want to have done weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annually? Here’s a link to a work-in-progress checklist of mine. 

The purpose here is truly to get things out of your head and free up that space for creative thinking while making sure you’re up to date on the admin tasks and nothing slips through the cracks. 

Some useful tools

Checklists: I love checklists! The key is to have the checklist posted in the right location where you will actually see it at the appropriate time: Admin checklist in the office, wash/pack checklist on the cold room door, CSA dropoff supplies checklist attached with a magnet on the  inside of the delivery van door.

Google keep: Create checklists and set up recurring notifications at the key time you need them (for instance: have a farmer’s market checklist that pops up every Saturday morning at 6:45 am or at whatever time you load your truck; have an end of season clean up checklist scheduled to pop up Oct 15, etc)

Todoist: A simple and easy to use task management app. I can get into this topic at a later date is this is something that interests you!

Implementation

I know this can be a bit overwhelming, but: Once again, less is more! 

The opportunity this fall and winter is to start experimenting with routines so that by next spring you’ve gotten in the habit of maintaining certain of these high-level routines. 

I invite you to start with a simple 15-20 minute morning routine. What are 2-3 actions you want to do each morning ?

What are 2-3 actions you want to do each week in a routine manner? Write them down, schedule them, and take notice of what impact the routine has on you.  

Have fun!!


Willpower is overrated. Go for smart work environments instead!

 

Willpower is great, but let’s face it: it’s a limited resource.

In reality, we’re the product of our habits and our environments. 

The key here is to use our willpower in a leveraged manner. Rather than try and use our willpower to muscle our way to productivity, we need to use our willpower to make decisions about what kinds of environments we create for ourselves and what routines and habits we establish in our lives

Today we’ll look at the environments and we’ll look at routines and habits in the coming weeks.

The following environments have a particular ability to make or break our farm efficiency and more importantly the farm’s enjoyability!

Farm Control Center 

This is a space that is often non-existent or drastically under present on the farm…. This is unfortunate, given the high impact that a well-designed control center can have on our ability to operate in an intentional and effective manner. 

The control center is the brain of the farm. This is where we manage the farm at an operational level. It is where we make our daily plans, hold team meetings, manage weekly workflow, and track your goals. This is a designated space for the operational management of the farm and includes: 2-3 large (4x8ft) whiteboards, 1-2 desks, enough seats for the whole team (or at least the core management team if your farm has a large crew), a computer, shelves and/or filing cabinets, and a coffee machine 😉 This space has the field maps, seeding schedules, planting and harvest records, timesheets, etc. Sometimes, the control center is also the farm office, though ideally have a separate quiet office workspace, since the control room can be a pretty busy, dynamic, bustling area of the farm.

The question to ask yourself is: How might this farm control center environment support me in coordinating the operational workflow and team dynamics I’m looking to nurture on my farm?

The office

Next is the farm office. The key is to set up the space to be conducive to keeping your bookkeeping up to date. Of course, there are things to be done other than bookkeeping, but if you are able to structure your work environment to keep your accounting up to date even in the height of summer, then you can do anything!

There are 2 key elements: each person needs to ideally ace their own desk or workspace; Use an inbox system to track incoming work and make sure it makes it to the right destination. I’ll get into this in a later blog post about how to manage your administrative workflow. 

How does the physical environment that you have created in your office support you to be a reliable, consistent business owner?

Is the environment of your office conducive to the good administrative habits you seek to cultivate in your farm?

The wash station

Here is another area of the farm where the physical environment we create has a huge impact on the behaviour of the people using the space.

At a very basic level, the wash station needs to be designed in a way that encourages efficient flow of vegetables from the field to the cold room while creating safe and ergonomic work habits for the team.

At a higher level, the way the wash station is organized needs to support the team to consistently do the important but non-urgent tasks that are parallelly related to washing and packing vegetables such as proper labeling, record keeping, food safety practices, making sure each order is complete and accurate, etc.

Map out the movement of products and people through the wash station… does it look like a bowl of spaghetti? How can you straighten and shorten the lines of movement?

How many times is each vegetable or box handled?  Do boxes get carried more than 2-3 steps without being on some type of wheeled device? (hand truck, dolly, pallet, cart) Are workers regularly lifting weights greater than 25-50 lbs?

Is each work surface at an appropriate height so as to not cause shoulder or back issues? Are wash hoses sufficiently flexible and well positioned so as to not cause torsion in the wrist? Do workers have to lift weights greater than 25 lbs while in torsion (ie lift and turn, lift and twist, lift and extend)?

Are packing and labeling tools and materials located exactly where they are needed at each step of the process? Can labels be applied with wet hands? Are clean hand towels available to dry hands so as to be able to apply the labels?

Are vegetable washing procedures and quality standards clearly written and visible? Are sanitary and wash station cleaning protocols or checklists clear and posted at the key locations? Is there a handwashing station with soap and hot water at the entrance of the wash station?

Are harvest records and packing slips located where they are needed? Are they in a format that can be filled in with wet or damp hands (whiteboard vs paper)?

Remember, this is a space where we spend a lot of time and that can often be a bottleneck in the production workflow. Having a well organized, ergonomic wash station can go a long way in creating a fun, enjoyable workspace for your employees. 

The tool room

GET RID OF YOUR CRAP!!! (oh, yeah, this applies to your office too… and all other workspaces).  Hopefully, you have a sense of humor… but, in all seriousness, this is truly a place where less is more.

The fewer types of tools you have, the easier it will be to have a place for each tool (and each tool in its place). The key is to develop a farm culture where a task is not considered “done” until all tools and materials are put away. This is so much easier to do when the tool shed is not a total mess (tidiness begets tidiness).

The question is: does your tool shed layout make it easy to keep it neat and tidy? 

Does each tool have a clear place?

Is it easy to walk into the tool room (without tripping on row covers, a seed, a couple of bags of green manure seed, and a ball of packaging material from the last delivery of irrigation supplies 6 weeks ago… you know what I mean, we’ve all been there)?

One last thing to wrap up this section… lest you think I’m some type of higher than thou clean freak … let’s just say that my wife would find it hilarious if she saw me writing these lines about tidiness. I merely emphasize the importance of neatness because I myself have been there and seen the enormous inefficiency that comes from farming in a mess!

Your turn!

What are you getting out of this blog post?

What change on your farm would have the greatest impact on the efficiency and enjoyability of the work?

What’s the next action to create the work environments you need?

My interview on the Thriving Farmer Podcast

I’m thrilled to share my very first podcast appearance with you! I first met Michael Killpatrick a number of years ago at a mutual acquaintance’s farm, and since then have always been impressed by the consistency, professionalism, and quality of his projects. Which is why I was honored when he asked me to join him on his podcast!

Check out my wide-ranging conversation with Michael Killpatick on the “Thriving Farmer Podcast”. Here’s the link. 

Your turn:

What are you getting out of this podcast so far? What do you see in this for yourself?

What is a small sweet step that would create the space to see your farm and life from a different perspective?

Enjoy!

Rest, recharge, and finish the growing season with clarity, focus, ease, and grace!

Alright, folks… it’s the final stretch.

By now, most of your expenses are behind you, which means that whatever sales you make here on out are pretty much gravy! The coming weeks are critical in terms of reaching your financial goals, leave a great impression for your clients to boost client retention next year, and prep the fields for next year.

And yet… 

And yet it’s been a busy summer! I know, you may be getting tired, that you may feel like you’re hitting a wall. It’s normal. In the last 2 weeks, 70% of my clients are hitting ‘burnout level 1’ (as one of them put it). 

What would it take to leave the farm for a 2 or 3-day vacation? 

What would it take to refresh, recharge, and come back with renewed energy and vigor for the fall?

What are 2 actions you are willing to take this week to create the time and space for some rest and recharge?

Summer is almost over, the seasons are shifting, and it is so important to take the steps necessary to be fully present and engaged at this time of year. 

Your mind is the most valuable asset of the farm, it’s time to recharge! 

PS: Do these types of questions interest you? Are you ready to take your personal and business skills up a notch? I’ve got just the thing for you! Join me and 5 other dynamic experienced farmers this winter to work together towards your goals. Here are all the details for the 2020 farmer-to-farmer coaching group

Getting to the root of the problem: Digging soil profiles to better grow healthy organic vegetable crops.

One of my favorite activities when visiting farms is to dig a soil profile (and I’ve had the pleasure of digging profiles all over North America over the past 3 years of #van life. It’s wild how infrequently I did this on my own farm, and how few farmers dig soil profiles to check out their crop’s roots. 

Our first reflex when observing a less than optimal crop is to look at surface level stuff: insects, diseases, fertilization, irrigation. While all these are important things to consider, soil and root health are often overlooked and can often be the root cause of the problem  (pun intended). 

No wonder these cauliflowers we half their normal size, there’s no root development below 4 inches due to soil compaction!

The idea is to dig a 12-16 inch deep cross-section trench the width of a bed, ideally in a standing crop or green manure. Once you have dug the hole, use a pocket knife to ‘refresh’ the edge by picking at it with the blade so as to see the actual soil condition and not only the smeared edge created by the shovel.

  • Start by poking the soil with your knife, starting at the surface and working your way down. How hard is the soil? Do you notice any change in hardness? Can you identify the different tillage depths based on how hard the soil is?
  • Pay attention to the roots. How deep do they go? Do you notice any roots that turn at a right angle and grow horizontally (an indication of compaction)? What color are the roots; white and healthy, or brown and necrosed? Is there any funkiness going on (such as nematode damage)? Is there a strong, identifiable taproot for crops where this would be expected? 
  • What evidence of biological activity do you see? How many earthworms and worm galleys are there? Is there undecomposed organic matter indicating anaerobic conditions and low biological activity? What does it smell like: sweet and earthy, or funky and anaerobic?
  • At what depth is the water table? (Ideally, you won’t find the water table at 12-16 inches… but I’ve been surprised before!)
  • We often assume our tillage operations are doing a good job, but it is so important to check it out for real. Dig a profile to check that your chisel, ripper, or subsoiler is actually doing what you think it is. 
Effect of compaction of organic vegetable roots (cauliflower). Notice the lack of roots below 4 inches and the roots that are growing horizontally.

By getting to the root of the problem, we can make sure to take actions that actually have the greatest impact possible… there’s no point spending time and energy on (insert input name __________) if you’ve only got roots 3 or 4 inches deep!!

Now that you’ve ascertained that there’s a compaction issue, it’s time to do something about it! This means using some type of tillage equipment to do some deep tillage. Usually, this means working the soil 8 inches deep using a chisel plow or broadfork. If you have serious compaction or ‘plow pan’ issues, you may need to chisel deeper or use a subsoiler. The general idea is to work at a depth that is 1 inch deeper than the compacted zone. The rule of thumb for deciding on the spacing between chisel or subsoiler shanks is to have 1.5 to 2 times the tillage depth (if working 8 inches deep, shanks could be 12-16 inches apart).

Here’s a great document on the subject of subsoiling.

Above all… dig a soil profile to verify that your tillage is actually having the desired outcome!!  

Similarly, it is so important to get to the root cause of any issue in our life. 

The problem is rarely the problem. Be curious about what is really going on!

  • The 5 ‘whys’: Asking and answering the question ‘why’ 5 times to get to the root cause of the problem (My profits are lower than anticipated, Why, Because market sales are 30% lower, Why, etc… 5 times);
  • Listen for the emotional needs behind what people are saying… not just to the issue they are seemingly bringing to you;
  • Be committed to reality. Are you more interested in your thoughts, beliefs, and opinions or are you more interested in seeing clearly what is present in this moment? 

Go make a ruckus!

Mid-Summer’s Financial Reality Check

I get it!! Summer is in full swing and you’re probably plenty busy surfing the wave of the growing season. Personally, this is a time of year I always loved on the farm– when I could be fully immersed in the richness of growing and harvesting the abundance that a well planned and well executed market farm can produce.

For many years, the last thing on my mind at this time of year was budgeting. I mean, budgeting is something you do in winter right …? Wrong!! On my farm, dialing in the mid season budget management was instrumental in allowing me to take my net income from 30k$ per year to 50k$ (and that, the year after my son was born, and my first year managing my farm without my wife.)

The fact of the matter is that this is a crucial time in terms of scoring our financial goals. The game is by all means not won, nor lost, at this point… Depending on your situation, it can go both ways. Arguably the biggest sales months are still ahead!

Thus the importance of bringing more focused attention to our finances this week.

  1. Where are your sales at? What % of your total sales target have you reached so far? Are you ahead or behind of last year’s % sales at the same date?
  2. What weekly sales targets will allow you to reach your goal? Don’t be fooled by a simple average. Weekly sales targets in August will obviously need to be higher than in June or October. Break it down by sales outlets so you can see which are ahead and which are behind. Communicate these targets to your market vendors… celebrate victories, brainstorm creative ways your staff can take an active role in scoring these goals.
  3. How are your expenses doing? What expense categories have you maxed out; which still have some budget available? What expenses can you minimize or delay till next year? It can be tempting to buy the largest format of supplies to ‘get a lower price per unit’, but please take into consideration your annual budget when making such decisions. The lower unit price of a box of 5000 screws when all you needed was 500 is not always worth busting your budget for.

By all means… don’t freak out if you don’t have the record keeping systems in place to allow you answer all these questions.

Progress… not perfection! We’ll work on those systems next winter together. 😉

Oh … and don’t forget to enjoy the ride! What would be a small sweet action that would be a demonstration of enjoying the small things in life and savouring the summer?

Achieving equity growth on your farmer mind/body balance sheet (aka self-care for farmers)

Ahhh, the balance sheet– everyone’s favourite topic and the sexyest of farm financial statements 😉

Equity=Assets-Obligations… remember?

As a farmer, your biggest asset is yourself.

Your mind, your spirit, your body. (Hereby referred to as your mind/body; alluding to the fact that separation of mind, body, and spirit (the holy trinity?) is an illusion)

And yet…

And yet it’s the farm asset that we most often neglect and fail to maintain and care for.

We do oil changes on the tractor, we repaint our houses, we fix leaks in the roof of our buildings, we grease the zerks on our machinery, we install drainage and level our fields…

Similarly there are simple actions we can take to care for our mind/body. It doesn’t have to take much time! Just 10 minutes per day makes an enormous difference!

Stretching, a quiet walk, listening to the birdsongs with a nice hot beverage, yoga, a quick swim in the pond, meditation, dancing in your pyjamas, prayer, reading a couple pages from an inspiring text, massage (self massage or with a partner), the list is endless.

The point is that this is such a personal topic– I can’t tell you what you need, but your mind/body knows! Create a 10 minute break in your day to look within and see what would just feel great to you.

What are you doing to maintain and nurture your mind/body?

How’s your mind/body balance sheet doing?

What are the major ‘obligations’ (debts) that are putting a strain on your mind/body?

What would it be like to set aside 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes in the evening for self-care?

Look within… what would just feel great to you?

Firing farm employees with clarity, focus, ease, and grace.

Firing an employee is one of the hardest things about being a business owner.

No one likes doing so. As if it were somehow bad or insulting or hurtful.

The truth of the matter is that it’s perfectly normal. It’s a normal part of being in business, and it’s normal to feel these emotions.

But what if there were a different way of seeing it?

What if it wasn’t about ‘firing’ anyone?

What if it were about being intentional about the relationships we choose to cultivate and maintain around us?

The fact of the matter is that our employees are the people we spend the most time with in our life.

When I look at it from the perspective of cultivating a relationship, I see how important communication is. Way before even getting to the point of ‘firing’ someone, it is so important to clearly communicate expectations and to create the space to regularly check in. If you see there is something that is not working, you need to let them know ASAP! People fundamentally want to succeed. Take the time to sit down and clearly communicate what is and isn’t working for you and what needs to change to correct the situation. Be clear on the time frame… 1 week, 2 weeks?

Oh… and by the way, you aren’t fooling anybody by not talking about it! Body language and attitude are so obvious and we humans are hard-wired as social animals to pick up on these subtle forms of communication. If there is something that is bothering you, you can be pretty damn sure your employee either already knows about it, or at least has a sense that something ain’t quite right.

I know it can seem like you don’t have the time for communication. I’ve been there. I know how there is always something more urgent to do than take 15 minutes for an employee check in– but it is soooo important. You don’t have the time NOT to do it!!

And be truthful– truthful with yourself and truthful with your employee. Embrace the truth of the matter. This can be challenging given the tendency of the mind to obsess on either guilt, judgement, or condemnation (thoughts like either ‘geez why am I thinking this, it isn’t that bad.’ -OR- ‘that person is such a ……’ -OR-   ‘I’m such a ….’)

What is more interesting to you, these ‘monkey mind’ thoughts, or squarely looking at whether or not this person and your business are a fit?

If it becomes clear that someone is in fact not a good fit for your business, let them know as soon as possible in a respectful, clear, and compassionate manner. As Chris Blanchard used to say ‘Hire slow, Fire fast’. It’s better to be short staffed than to have someone on board that’s not a fit for your team. I know it can be scary, but in my experience that person is probably slowing down the entire team and contributing to a tense and unenjoyable work atmosphere–and it’s amazing how often the right person appears once you create the space for it.

The key question is always: Am you more interested in what is missing, or in what is seeking to emerge in this situation?  

Weeding your 2020 and 2021 vegetable fields NOW!


When’s the best time to weed your crops? 2-3 years ago!! (Yes, I know, the real answer is when the weeds are at the white thread and cotyledon stage….)

This is the kind of Important yet Non-Urgent action that easily slips to the wayside when things get busy… especially while playing catch-up after such a wet, late spring as we’re currently experiencing.

I would like to offer a couple of simple questions for your reflection that can lead to some high impact, high leverage actions.

Where specifically on your farm are next year’s weed sensitive crops going?

The act of defining where your most weed-sensitive crops will be planted next year is surprisingly powerful. It is important that once you answer these questions for yourself, that you also communicate it to your farming partners and crew.

  • What crops are the most susceptible to weeds? (Ex: Carrots, Salad mix, onions, Insert your personal answers here)
  • What area of weed sensitive crops do you anticipate growing next year (approximately)?
  • Where specifically will those crops go?

What’s your plan to reduce the weed pressure in those areas?

Once again it doesn’t have to be complicated but as I learned as a Boy Scout when I was a kid: ‘If you fail to plan, you plan to fail’

  • What are your most troublesome weeds? What is their lifecycle?
  • Can you set aside some land for the whole season to focus on reducing the weed seed bank?
  • If not, what actions will you take to ensure 100% no weeds going to seed in this year’s crop on that plot? What actions will you take to optimise post-harvest tillage to set the stage for the weed-sensitive crops next year?
  • What methods and technologies are most appropriate to your scale? Silage tarps (occultation), bare fallow, mechanical cultivation, fast growing green manures, etc)
  • What are the key dates that you will need to hit?

What systems or tools would best support you to actually implement your plan this summer?

This is all well and good…. but it ain’t worth a rat’s ass if it’s not implemented.

  • What systems would support you to carry out your plan?
    • Scheduled in your calendar ?
    • Automatic email reminders and alarms? (Using the nw what nw ? do you mean no ? snooze function in gmail)
    • Delegating the plan to a crew member?
  • What tools and materials are necessary?
    • Do you have the cover crop seed on hand?
    • Is the necessary information clearly available to crew members in the form of reference charts etc?
    • Is your tillage equipment capable of tilling just 1 or 2 inches deep for stale seed-bedding?

For more on weed control, check out this blog post from last year on the subject.

Have fun!!

Let me know what you see in this for yourself in the comments section below or by email!

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