Whether you have a small garden plot in your backyard, or you have hundreds of acres of land used for food production, preparations are important for a successful harvest in the spring. From ground preparation, to pest control, planting, maintenance, and care of equipment, implementing a plan of action now will result in better yields. And for many farmers, preserving land quality for future generations is an important aspect of their growing schedules.
Knowing the type of soil is basic to any crop preparation plan. Most experienced farmers know what type of soil they have on their land, how well it retains moisture, and what crops grow well in that type of soil. For those who are new to farming, you can find out a great deal of information from local agriculture experts. Most U.S. counties have an agriculture extension office or agent who can provide information on soil types.
● Composting is an important key to healthy soil, offering a number of benefits, including water-holding capacity and improved tilth, or soil conditions. This includes the degree of soil aeration, and the formation and stability of aggregated soil particles, to name a few benefits. There are three different types of composting: aerobic (with oxygen); anaerobic (without oxygen); and vermicomposting (composting with earthworms which produce earthworm castings that enhance soil composition and plant growth.)
● Tilling or ploughing the soil is another step in producing better conditions for crops, which is followed by harrowing, which breaks up the soil bed and prepares a foundation for seed planting. Many farmers prefer to plough in the fall rather than the spring when so many other tasks are required.
● Preparing your soil in the fall is better than putting it off until the spring. The soil is still relatively warm and easier to work, and you don’t have as many tasks to perform in the autumn season compared to the number that you’ll have in the spring.
Every year, 20 to 40 percent of the world’s crops are lost to disease or pests. Of the 250,000 species of plants that exist on Earth, there are about 8000 different types of weeds, and 250 of those are a danger to the international food supply. One example of a dangerous crop disease is gray leaf spot, the top threat to corn in the northern U.S. and Canada. In addition to weeds that threaten crops, there are 500,000 different insect species that eat green plants.
Both weeds and insects are pests, and protecting crops against them is key to a successful and bountiful harvest. According to the National Academy of Sciences, an estimated $40 billion in crop and forest production losses occur each year in the U.S. alone due to invasive species. There are techniques that can be used to prevent crop invasions, but pesticides are the only answer after they’ve appeared.
Protecting crops against weeds and insect pests takes planning, preparation, and having the right equipment. If you’ve found weeds or insects that have already made an appearance, identification is important for their eradication. There are specific products created for specific issues. Pre-emergents help control weeds before they have an opportunity for an all-out invasion.
For spot applications, handheld sprayers allow precise targeting in an infested area. Many of these offer a 1 to 8-gallon tank capacity, and come with a wand so that you can closely control the spray. However, if you have a larger problem, there are larger tank sprayers that attach onto an ATV vehicle, and provide an 140-inch boom coverage. Check out the WorkHorse 25 gallon, 7-nozzle ATV sprayer, perfect for applying not only pesticides, but fertilizers as well.
Some farmers plant cover crops, which many experts say is climate-smart agriculture. Cover crops are those crops planted with the primary goal of preventing soil erosion, while improving soil quality and fertility. They are low maintenance, It has been shown to control pests, by suppressing unwanted invasive weed growth. Fall cover crops are planted about 4 weeks before the first frost, then killed when they flower. After the dead plants are no longer green, they are tilled into the soil. Field peas and oats are an example of cover crops that grow well together, and die out when winter arrives and they are exposed to the frost.
Equipment Repairs and Maintenance
Fall is a good time to perform maintenance and store equipment that won’t be used again until spring. Whether you have just the basic tools, or a long list of expensive implements, inspection and maintenance is important for equipment service life. Farm equipment is an investment. Start off by removing dirt and mud using a pressure washer, if possible. Check hoses, fittings, and fluid levels, such as oil and coolant. Verify inflation levels on tires, and inspect the battery for any signs of corrosion. Check the hardware for any missing or damaged pieces and replace them. Store equipment in a shed or barn to prevent harsh weather exposure.
Cleaning your equipment after each use also prevents rust, which is a common issue for farm equipment. Additionally, fall is a good time to perform repairs on fencing, storage buildings, barns, and grain storage bins.
Check your equipment and replace them if needed. Garden and farm equipment takes a beating during busy spring planting and autumn harvests. Each year, manufacturers release equipment models implementing the latest technology, with features that make planting and preparation a much easier job.
There are a variety of tools, equipment and supplies available that help with the necessary tasks required of farmers and gardeners. We offer an array of tools and power equipment, and carry an agriculture sprayer supply in various sizes to fit the job. Visit our website to see the products we offer.