Based on a Google search, “Going green” means to pursue knowledge and practices that can lead to more environmentally friendly and ecologically responsible decisions and lifestyles, which can help protect the environment and sustain its natural resources for current and future generations.
Although Uncle Bob never thought he would say it, he is going green!!!
Soil conservation. Through no-till planting, the soil is protected from erosion and helps with moisture control. On the farm, both the corn and cotton are planted with a no-till planter. No-till farming (also called zero tillage or direct drilling) is a way of growing crops or pasture from year to year without disturbing the soil through tillage.
Water conservation. On the farm we use drip irrigation to water the pumpkins and vegetable patch. This saves water and fertilizer by allowing water to drip slowly to the roots of the plants, directly onto the root zone. This is accomplished via a network of valves, pipes, tubing, and emitters. Plastic mulch is also used to help conserve water.
Weed control. To help control weeds, “plastic mulch” is used in the pumpkin and vegetable patch. Controlling weeds eliminates the need for non-weed plants to compete for soil moisture and nutrients. Not only does the mulch help control weeds, but plastic mulch provides soil warming that significantly improves germination and stand establishment. In addition to the primary benefits mentioned above, plastic mulch is also very effective in conserving soil moisture and fertilizer due to reduced leaching from rainfall events.
Cover crops. Again, as defined by Google “A cover crop is a plant that is used primarily to slow erosion, improve soil health, enhance water availability, smother weeds, help control pests and diseases, increase biodiversity and bring a host of other benefits to your farm.”. On our farm we use cover crops for what is called “over wintering”. We primarily plant winter wheat on all the crop fields. This year we planted winter rye and something called “hairy vetch” in the pumpkin patch. The advantage of hairy vetch is that it returns nitrogen back to the soil. As Uncle Bob says “it plucks the nitrogen out of the air and puts it in the soil”. This ultimately saves needing to add additional fertilizer to the soil the next planting year.
Bees. A local bee keeper has been kind enough to install a honey bee hive on the farm. Although the beekeepers primary purpose is to have the bees make honey that can be harvested and sold, what excites us most about the bees is that as they gather nectar from all the different plants on the farm, they end up cross pollinating our crops. The better crops are cross pollinated, the better the fruit or vegetables you will have.
Planting with GPS. There are several advantages to planting utilizing a GPS. On the farm, Uncle Bob uses a GPS with a grid to plant the corn. This practice ensures that too much or too little space is not left between rows. Corn seeds planted too close to each other will have to compete for soil nutrients, water and sun light. Corn planted too farm away from each other will allow weeds to not be shaded out, as well as lead to inefficiency in the yield of corn.
There is also a benefit of fuel savings, since the field is planted in most efficient mannor.