Archive for the ‘Organic Farming and Gardening’ Category

A Guide to Organic Farm Irrigation System Design


2017
09.18

There are many important aspects of planning out an organic farm. According to The Irrigation Shop, one of the biggest feats to tackle in any farming setup is the farm irrigation design. What exactly is irrigation you may ask? Irrigation is the supply of water to crops and farmland to aid in crop growth. While farm irrigation systems are not mandatory, they aid in ensuring high quality crop yields and are used on almost all farms.

Water Source

Water sources are typically from the local municipal water source, on-site wells, or rainwater collection. It is very important that the water source remains pure and unpolluted. If the water source is contaminated and you continue to water your crops with it, the crop in question is undoubtedly tainted with the same pollutants present in the water source.

Irrigation Design

There are several different avenues of design you can explore with farm irrigation systems, some are better suited to organic farms than others. Drip irrigation delivers water to the plant roots through low pressure pumps either at ground level or underground. Surface irrigation bypasses the use of pumps, using gravity to carry water across land downhill.

One of the main things to take into consideration with organic farm irrigation equipment is energy use. This makes the surface irrigation design one of the best options for organic farms whenever possible. The next type of irrigation farming is the centre pivot irrigation design. Center-pivot irrigation is typically used on flat, large-scale farms and requires the use of pumps and sprinklers on wheeled towers. Manual irrigation is only effective for very small scale farms, where workers physically water each crop by hand.

Organic Irrigation Farming

Since most organic farms are typically smaller scale, manual watering is very feasible and favoured. Nothing beats letting the rain take care of your watering needs, watering only areas needing a bit of love. When organic farms start to grow in size, the next best option is the drip irrigation design. Since this design uses low-pressure pumps, energy use remains generally small in the grand scheme of things.

Another benefit of drip irrigation is that you can incorporate nutrient distribution with the same system. The only downside to drip irrigation is that installation can be a bit costly, which largely depends on a few factors. One being the soil quality, the type of terrain and sewing pattern also play huge roles in the affordability of drip irrigation.

The most important factor being the type of crop you are watering. Certain fruits and veggies require more or less water than others. If farms have blocks split into several different crop varieties, the cost rises as more main pipes and switches will be required.

Surface irrigation can also be employed as a cheap, greener option for organic farms. This type of irrigation works well with closely planted crops. If water needs to be pumped uphill, renewable resources like solar or wind energy can be used to transport water uphill to storage tanks that release water downhill to the crops.

Planning

The best way to go about designing your irrigation equipment is by drawing it all out on paper, deciding which irrigation design best suits your farm and planning how many main pipes will need to be installed, as well as water switches. The next step is to call local vendors to get price quotes for your specific acreage and design. Most local vendors are going to be a bit cheaper than larger scale irrigation equipment suppliers, so the more research you do, the better the pricing.

Read Also: New Equipment for Future Organic Farmers

New Equipment for Future Organic Farmers


2016
02.28

With the demand for organic produce growing at an unprecedented rate, it’s becoming necessary to develop farm machinery that can promote healthy growth and effective weed control. The elimination of chemicals for killing weeds and fertilizing crops has created a need for faster and more effective farm equipment.

In response to the demand, the necessary organic farming equipment is being developed and produced by an increasing number of farm machinery manufacturers, and including systems that have the ability to identify and eliminate weeds within the plant rows as well as between rows.

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Seeders

Most seeders can be readily added to your inventory of organic farming equipment. The popular Jang seeders are easily adjustable to singulate and provide the necessary spacing of seeds. Changeable attachments will accommodate different seed sizes and planting depth. Depending on the model, these seeders can be pushed or pulled manually, or hitched, with the necessary attachment, to a motorized farm vehicle.

Organic Farming Equipment for Weed Control: Tined Weeders

If simplicity is your goal, tined weeders will remove most weeds from your crop. In addition to weeding, multi-purse tined weeders with comb harrows can be used in preparing seedbeds. They will also break up and aerate the soil to allow better circulation of water and air in the soil. When used at higher speeds, this machine can effectively remove dead thatch and large rooted weeds.

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Robocrop

Developed by Garford Farm Machinery in the UK, Robocrop moves farm equipment into new levels of technology. Video cameras, identifying weeds by determining their size and shape, allow Robocrop to weed crops more accurately by automatically adjusting the directions of the hoes. And it is able to navigate row crops, including narrow rows and multi-line rows. Speeds up to 7 mph are possible – even higher in some cases.

Robocrop InRow Weeder

More modern technology is available in Robocrop InRow. Using special software to identify and target weeds, Robocrop InRow can remove weeds from within the rows as well as from between them. With crops that are regularly spaced like lettuce and cabbage, Robocrop will also perform accurately if the plants are clearly separated. Up to three plant spacings a second are possible, and machine sizes are available for up to 18 rows. Hoes can be rear or front mounted. The machine can be guided by the driver, by a second person, or by a video guidance system.

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Organic Farming Equipment for Spreading Manure

When spraying of chemical fertilizers is eschewed by organic farmers, it becomes necessary to utilize alternate fertilizing methods. Manure spreader manufacturers are making every effort to provide machines that improve the way that manure is processed. One of the leading companies involved in this endeavor is Richard Western, Ltd. New machines developed by this company are designed to finely shred the fibrous manure, ensuring the soil’s organic content and making sure that no clusters of straw or lumps of manure remain. This process aids in spreading the manure thoroughly and evenly.

Conclusion

A quick Internet search provides a wealth of information about farming and the tools and equipment needed. The only problem is in deciding how expensively and how deeply the farmer wishes to delve into organic agriculture. From simple to advanced, the equipment is readily available.

Get the Facts on Organic vs. Conventional Coffee


2015
10.02

Coffee lovers often have discerning taste buds, and they love to compare different blends and coffee roasting techniques. One of the biggest differences among coffees is whether they are conventional or organic. 

You might already be purchasing produce from the organic section of the store, so why not coffee? Premium Coffee Roasters suggests this list of the differences between conventional and organic coffees, and what they mean for your brew.

 

Farming Practices

Coffee is one of top traded commodities in the world, with more than 12 billion pounds produced each year. Meeting that demand can be a daunting task, so farming methods must maximize production. Unfortunately, this can often have an impact on human and environmental health. 

Conventional coffee is heavily treated with fertilizers, pesticides, and insecticides. Farmers are often exposed to a high level of chemicals when growing the crops and handling them during harvest. These chemicals also affect the surrounding communities, spreading residues in the air and water.

Organic coffee is produced with no synthetic fertilizers or chemicals during the growing process. This results in cleaner beans, land, and water. Natural fertilizers include coffee pulp, manure, or compost. Organic farms typically emit less carbon than chemical farms. 

 

Environmental Impact

Another profound difference between conventional vs organic coffees is their impact on the environment. As previously mentioned, the chemicals from conventional farms can affect the surrounding areas—including nearby forests.

Conventionally grown coffee plants tend to be hybrids that can grow in open sunlight. Coffee plants normally prefer the shade, but crops grown under thick tree canopies are more difficult to work and harvest, and cannot be densely planted.

Because of this, forests are often cleared to make room to grow large amounts of the sunlight-loving hybrid coffee plants. While coffee production increases, the local ecosystem suffers. Birds and lizards, which typically are natural pest deterrents, are left without habitats. And without the natural fertilizers the ecosystem provides, chemical fertilizer use increases.

Organic coffee is grown within the shade of forests, which provide a home for plants and animals. This sustains soil fertility, and keeps regional ecosystems healthy. 

 

Health Benefits of Coffee

The chief advantage of consuming organic coffee over conventionally grown blends is that you avoid a product grown with harmful pesticides. With its numerous antioxidants, organic coffee is a drink that is good for you and the environment.

When it comes to taste, organic coffee tends to have a more robust flavor than conventional coffee. Many coffee connoisseurs choose to get their beans from a local coffee roaster specializing in organic varieties. This can be an affordable option for those on a budget.

There are numerous health benefits of organic coffee, which include improved cognitive function, reduced chance of diabetes, and protection against several types of cancer. Coffee drinking can protect your cardiovascular system, and even help you lose weight by optimizing your metabolism. 

Organic coffee is proven to offer a host of benefits to human health and the health of our planet. After learning the differences between conventional vs organic coffee, you will be able to make an educated choice on which is right for you and your family.

Top Tips for Creating an Organic Garden


2015
09.29

Over the past few years, many people in different parts of the country have continued to express interest in creating their own organic gardens in their backyards. This is not only because they have the urge to protect the environment but also enjoy the true taste of fresh fruits, vegetable and herbs. The tips on how to make an organic vegetable garden are outlined below:

 

1. Develop a Plan

 

Before you even think of preparing the soil, take the time to decide on what types of vegetables, fruits or herbs do best in your area and then look for local sources that can provide you with high-quality seeds. No matter the size or layout of your backyard, you can find the right garden design from relevant online sources or expert gardeners within your locality. 

 

2. Prepare the Soil

To get the best possible results from your new organic garden, it’s very important to ensure that the soil is properly conditioned. A deep, organic-rich soil plays a huge role in encouraging the growth of healthy, strong roots that are capable of reaching more nutrients and water. Depending on your location, you may want to plant tomatoes, onions, dwarf French beans, strawberries or beetroots. 

To ensure that you prepare the soil properly, you’ll need to look for a variety of vegetable garden equipment and clothing, including a shovel, a hoe, a rake, a trowel, gloves and wellington boots. After preparing the soil as required, you’ll have to apply a suitable organic fertilizer. 

 

3. Plant the Seeds

Once you have your seeds and prepared the soil, you’re ready to start planting. Dig a depression for every seed and then add a considerable amount of water to the entire garden. After that, you can place a thick layer of organic mulch on your garden to retain water. Pine needles, grass clippings, shredded bark, chopped leaves, and hay are just some of the few types of mulches you can choose for your garden. If you’re planting the seeds in the hot summer months, you might need to water your garden at least twice a day. 

 

4. Care and Maintenance

Regardless of the size of your garden, be prepared to face weed problem. This means that you have to watch out for these trespassers after every few days. If you have a small garden, you can always dig out the weeds using a rake or simply pull them out your hands. If the garden is large in size, you may want to consider hiring a reliable weed control company to help you get rid of the weeds a meticulous manner. 

To make sure that your plants look healthy and become more productive, it’s advisable to watch out for pests and diseases. Some of the most disastrous pests that can attack your garden include rodents, termites, moths, dandelions or beetles. Dangerous plant diseases include apple scab, corn smut, brown rot, blossom end rot and bacterial canker. If you’re not familiar with the environmentally ways of fighting these pests or diseases, it’s important that you consider enlisting the help of your local pest and weed control company.