STEP 1 - TILLING

 

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Some of my experiences living in the country.

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Hay Farming
Hay farming process.

Step 1- Tilling
Working the soil.

Step 2 - Planting
Planting the seed.

Step 3 - Irrigation
Watering the crop.

Step 4 - Weed Control
Dealing with weeds.

Step 5 - Fertilizing
Fertilizing the soil.

Step 6 - Cutting
Cutting the hay.

Step 7 - Baling
Baling up the hay.

Step 8 - Stacking
Stacking the hay bales.

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Tilling - Preparing the Soil for Planting

When we moved to our property, the previous owner had already established some hay fields.  There was one 33 acre field of orchard grass hay and another 8 acre field of alfalfa hay.  Because the fields were already established, I didn't have to buy any tillage or planting equipment.  A few years later, I decided to make some changes around the farm.  I was going to stop raising orchard grass for hay.  It was too expensive to raise because of all the fertilizer (nitrogen) and water needed to make it grow.  Even with lots of fertilizer and water, it still would not grow well later in the Summer when temperatures would reach 90-100F.  In the end, the expenses were so high that I was doing a lot of work for nothing (or very little return). 

Tilling 

Case Tractor Tilling My Field With a Disc

I took the 33 acre field and split it into 2 sections.  On one section of around 17 acres of grass, I fenced off and made it into cow pasture for my growing herd.  The other section of around 16 acres, I decided to plant it into alfalfa.  It didn't make sense for me to buy expensive tillage and planting equipment that I would use infrequently, so I hired an experienced farmer to do the tilling and planting for me.  In the picture above, you can see the farmer pulling a disc through the dead orchard grass field.  I had the orchard grass sprayed out and killed in the Summer, and the dead sod sat over the Winter and started to decompose.  The following Spring, the tilling was done and the sod broke up nicely and provided a nice seed bed for planting the alfalfa. 

Tilling Completed

A View of Part of the 16 Acre Field After Tilling Was Completed

As a side note, I had originally planned to try to go the no-till way of planting in the Fall.  The seed would be planted right into the dead orchard grass sod.  A special planting drill would be used that would be capable of cutting through the sod and placing the alfalfa see into the soil at the right depth.  I felt that this would be a better way to go.  In part, it would prevent wind and water erosion of the soil.  With tilling, the soil is loose and prone to blowing or washing away.  In this area of high wind potential, it's not uncommon to hear of farmers having to replant, sometimes multiple times, because the loose soil blew away (taking the seed with it)!  In addition, I felt that the no-till method would also minimize weed problems, because the soil would be largely undisturbed other than the slits from the drill that planted the alfalfa seed.  In the end, the farmer that had the right equipment and experience with no-till planting did not come out in the Fall as expected.  As a result, I had to wait until the next Spring, and at that point I found another farmer who was able to do the work and recommended using the normal tilling method.  So, that's the way that I had it done.

 

 

 

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