plowing in 2016 from bruce king on Vimeo.
What I did three years ago was to use a disc harrow (the john deere 210 pictured below) to cut up all of the vegetation in preparation for plowing (see the video above)
|john deere 210 disc harrow|
So after discing and plowing, I'd wait a week (or until a few days after the next rainfall) and disk the whole thing again. this second pass with the disc is to kill the weeds and unwanted plants. Most commercial farmers do this with an herbicide - roundup is popular - but I'm using mechanical tillage instead of herbicides to keep my fields certified organic. I really haven't looked much at organic herbicides - the mechanical tillage does a pretty good job, and i'm not that worried about weeds.
Once the second disc pass was over, I'd start planting seed, using my brillion planter, and it does a very good job of planting the small grass and alfalfa seed. All of that done, I waited for the crop to grow, and for the last three years have been harvesting it.
And it was during harvesting that my mistakes became apparent.
|2014 crop plan|
Mowing is slower (and less efficient) because i have to allow extra space below the cutter head to keep it from hitting the ground, and the speed bump effect limits my top speed, and makes the cutter bounce, and all of that adds up to hours and hours of extra time cutting.
Raking is slower because the cut forage falls into these depressions and sometimes requires a second pass with the rake to get it all. the rake does great on level ground, but the narrow wheel track marks are hard for it to get to if you're going perpendicular to them - across them. If you're going in the direction they go its better, but still not ideal.
Baling is slower and less efficient for the same reason - the biggest problem is that sometimes the track falls in the windrow, and some hay is wasted by not being picked up. Plus the speed bump thing limits the speed of the baler (and tractor) so things don't get shaken apart.
In short, when you're planting forage like alfalfa and grass, smooth is good. Smooth is your friend. Smooth is to be desired.
It was particularly bad because I'd plant the squares in the picture by driving around the edges and gradually working my way to the center. The result of this can actually be seen from orbit:
|click on the picture to magnify it: Tire tracks showing on the field|