The “Life” of a Field: To Be Cold or Not Be Cold?

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“LIFE” of a Field
To Be Cold or Not Be Cold?

How often this time of year do we drive by a field and all we see is snowy or
frozen covered ground and most of all we think nothing is happening. No life, no activity.
In reality what’s actually happening now can have a direct effect on crops and ultimately
your food.

Now none of us like the cold? Well especially me, the older I get, but the same is
not true for our farm. The cold temperatures, without significant snow, causes the
freezing and thawing of the top soils layers. This helps to condition and loosen the soil
which is particularly important around here because of our higher clay content. Heavy
snow insulates the soil therefore not letting the process happen as easily and this
process is key to our soil conditions. Why? Well extreme compaction from equipment
occurs when we are forced to harvest our crops in wet conditions. These wet conditions
don’t let soils resperate properly which can then cause toxins to build up and make
healthy soils unproductive. The other really important factor with extended cold is when
we experience storms, like this summer, that have traveled from southern regions.
These storms sometimes bring along diseases which our crops are very susceptible to
and these cold temperatures help to kill these invaders.

So getting back to our farm, we plant cover crops immediately after removing
seasonal crops such as pumpkins, sweet corn and soybeans. Some of the cover crops
we use on our farm include rye, radish, sunflowers, vetch, clovers, and oats – just to
name a few. The idea is to provide diversity and keep the biology working 365 days out
of the year and not just during the growing season. There are many more benefits which
will be discussed later on and as the season progresses. The pictures included show
some of these covers poking through our snow covered fields. IT’S ALL ABOUT

– Alan Ard

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