After a brief set-back this week, it looks like spring is here to stay. This ultimately means that farmers are starting planting season (or seriously planning to get started soon!)
Before the seeds go in the ground, there is “tillin’ up the land” as Kenny Chesney famously croons.
I recently rode in the tractor while James used the disc to break-up big clumps of dirt in the field (this is my rudimentary understanding of this tool’s use). It was a bumpy ride in the buddy seat, so my assessment was that the field needed it. However, it is not always the case that the field needs to receive that much impact. There is also field cultivating, which uses little triangle-shaped looking things to comb the surface of the field in preparation for the planter to come in behind and do its job. If anyone is a gardener, this process is like using the garden hoe to create the bed for your seeds. You need to break-up the rock hard soil and reveal the black dirt below.
Tillin’ up the land is not something that farmers do lightly, because every time the soil is turned over the land is disturbed. Erosion of the soil can occur and nutrients can be lost through this process. That is huge negative for the health of farmer’s crops and has environmental impacts, so farmers are experimenting with the best ways to prepare their land for planting while doing their best to protect the land itself. They do this through a variety of techniques such as “no-till” (where there isn’t any tilling of the land) and “strip tilling” (where they till only the very small area where the field will be planted). The perfect solution hasn’t been discovered yet, and it may vary by operation; however, rest assured farmers as a group are interested in protecting and conserving their soil as much as possible. It’s one of the most critical components in raising a successful crop and to the benefit of all to protect!
Good luck to all those farmers in the field, those wives abandoned, and drivers stuck behind farm equipment. Also, for all those far away from the farm, enjoy your spring too. I hope you get a little piece of planting season by growing a garden, a pot of herbs, or a bed of flowers!