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For v2. 0 I'm going to expand and try on a bit of a larger scale. I have ploughed up and shaped about another 0.2 Ha, and the idea is to use this for summer tomatoes and other veggies, as well as some Indian corn and sweet potatoes.

The first step is to cover the ground with straw to stop any further evaporation, and start building the soil. I have some assistants to help me here. I should have enough leftover straw from the feed bales to cover the ground completely by spring. 

 

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What I am also going to try to do is manage the beds on a strip system, so I will use tractor power for any heavy work, but try and keep the soil disturbance and compaction to a minimum. I have laid out strip beds so that the tractor always drives on the same tracks. In that way I get a 1.4m wide bed, and then a 60cm wide wheel track followed by another 1.4m bed and so on. 

I will probably need to use a bit of chemical fertilizer to jump start the system, but once the plants are growing nicely, I will try and cycle the crop residue back into the ground that it grew from.

The other challenge is planting though the crop residue. In v1. 0 I am doing it by hand, planting seedlings. On a large scale that will be too time consuming, so I will need to look at some sort of no till seed planter. I have a hand planter, bit that still only does one seed at a time, so I will need to get some sort of planter or drill.

To that end I have bought an old row cultivator, that I am going to try and convert into a planter eventually. 

For those that are interested, lots of farms are using no till, vertical till, minimal till, row till and variations of these to miminise soil disturbance as part of a conservation  agriculture system. Google down that rabbit hole. 

Edited by DeepBass9
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  • 2 weeks later...
Posted (edited)

Getting close to complete soil coverage now. So that should be the last time there is bare earth visible. It makes a nice contrast to other farmers who are busy discing up a dust storm with conventional field preparation. 

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Edited by DeepBass9
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  • 1 month later...
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Soil cover done. I have spread the winter's kraal manure down the centre of the beds where the planting will take place, and I have a lot of leftover feed residue to mulch over the weeds when they come up (and they will).

I have started planting seeds in seed trays of various tomatoes, squash, green beans and other veggies.

The next job is to lay out the drip irrigation......

 

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Edited by DeepBass9
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  • 3 weeks later...

The drip irrigation is going in now. This irrigation is fed by a storage dam, and the head is only about 2 m so I am using 40mm LDPE pipe, with 6mm holes drilled for water delivery. The holes are 1m apart so these will be used for tomatoes and squash or pumpkins.

The reason I am not using commercial drip tape, is that it needs higher pressure to get the water flowing through the fine holes, and the algae from the dam blocks up the fine holes very quickly. To prevent this the larger holes are drilled on the top of the pipe, so any gunk settles to the bottom of the pipe and the water comes out through the top. The water looks clean and sparkly, but it is actually quite green. If the big pipes block up, I can just flush them out to clean them.

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We also do some veggies . I like your idea and is thinking to do a part of the garden deep mulching . Have installed some shade netting witch does help a bit with the heat and wind . I make my own compost and try to get it balanced by adding some horse and cow manure . Do you use woodash as a potash supplement . May you have a good season this year .

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Basically this idea arose from seeing what could be done with leftover feed bales, which then lead to an epiphany about nutrient cycles and a better understanding of soil characteristics. Google and read about permaculture principles as that informs a lot of what I am doing.

I do use wood ash as a fertilisers, particularly putting it around fruit trees as it has lots of K and other alkaline oxides.

We try and incorporate anything organic into the whole system so for any 'waste' the logic goes like this:

1. Will the dog eat it? Yes/ No go to next option:

2. Will the poultry eat it? Yes/ No go to next option:

3. Will the Livestock eat it? Yes/ No go to next option:

4. Is it compostible? Yes/ No go to next option:

5. Can we use it for something? Yes/ No go to next option:

6. Is it recyclable? Yes/ No go to next option:

7. No? Lets not buy this again!

So anything organic goes back into the soil, either directly, or via the digestive tract of an animal or by composting, which in turn grows into something to feed back into the process.

 

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That looks awesome guys I have excess chicken manure do you think this could be used directly as fertilizer I have a small section of land that I have been planning to develop into a veg garden and I use a lot of straw bales for my chickens I clear the straw out weekly so the used straw is soaked in chicken manure do you think I could use this waste on the soil? My water is very alkaline so I have been struggling to grow crops in my smaller veg garden? ..

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Thinking further about your situation with alkaline soil. Ca and Mg are good for plants, but in an alkaline environment they are insoluble and are not taken up by the plant, or in too high a concentration. Using the deep mulching puts a lot more organic matter in the soil which neutralises the pH and makes more nutrients available to the plants, as well as conserving moisture. 

The thing to do is to try a large variety of different vegetables, and different varieties of those vegetables until you find something that works well in your circumstances. There are some things, like peppers, I just can't get right, but lettuce and tomatoes are worse than weeds. 

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