How We Source Our Fertility
We use a mix of our own manure-based compost and compost brought from one of our neighbors. Our manure is gifted from our young oxen and a neighboring dairy. We supplement this compost with several organic amendments to provide our crops with a surplus of nutrients. We pay special attention to micronutrients, which often are missed when one is only using compost made from local plants deficient in those same micronutrients.
We also grow legume cover crops such as fava beans, crimson clover, and field pea, which fix nitrogen, and whose deep roots bring subsoil nutrients up to the surface. These plants are incorporated in the soil in the spring, break down, and provide nutrients to the subsequent crop.
How We Manage Pests
We follow organic standards and do not use synthetic pesticides. We manage large pests with traps. Insect pests are managed by encouraging beneficial insects and by exclusion with row covers. Slugs are handled by handpicking and occasionally, the use of organic-approved molluscicide.
How We Control Weeds
In our deep compost beds, the compost itself buries weed seeds, preventing most from germinating. We also use false seedbedding, mechanical and hand cultivation, and summer fallows to manage weed pressure in our dry farmed plots. And of course, tolerance helps.
How We Manage Water
For our dry farmed crops, the plants receive NO supplemental irrigation at all. We do use sprinkler irrigation drawn from groundwater for our deep compost beds. In order to reduce our irrigation needs, we are increasing the water capacity of our soils by building our soil carbon.