Rotating a crop every few years keeps the soil primed with the nutrients needed to produce a quality harvest over many years. A healthy rotation is also an organic way to reduce fertilizer cost and control diseases in the soil that would otherwise be treated with pesticides.
Here we rotate our Broccoli crop once every 3, 4 or 5 years depending on the nutrient levels in the soil. Broccoli, in addition to being one of our favorite vegetables, is also an excellent crop to have in a rotation. It’s a natural fumigant that kills off a good many diseases that would affect not only the Broccoli crop, but all the others as well.
A cover crop is a secondary crop that’s planted in a field either between the rows of a primary crop or during an off-season. Once planted, it will protect the soil from erosion and from being exposed for much of the winter. It’s also a great way to further diversify organic activity in the soil.
We use a variety of cover crops depending on the needs of the soil, but one of the main ones is Winter Rye. This can be planted right after Broccoli is harvested in September and protect the ground over the winter months.
We care a lot about the quality of our produce and about making sure that our customers (you) get the best. To do this we use a good number of conservation practices that maintain the quality and longevity of our land. These are:
When it rains, loose soil is washed away - yes, everyone knows that. What you probably haven’t thought about is what that does to land and the soil. Smith’s Farm has remained pristine because we are proactive in maintaining what’s taken so long to create. We have sediment ponds that catch the runoff, treat the soil, and then every year, we use our graters to bring that treated soil back into the fields, so the cycle can happen again. It’s not sexy, but hey, neither is spreading manure -it just needs doing.
The sediment ponds mentioned above are very important to organically maintaining the land. We had the NRCS (Natural Resources Conservation Service) help us with the design and planted cattails and thick grasses leading up to the ponds. These treat water and soil runoff with additional nutrients before they hit the ponds.
Phosphorus isn’t readily available to plants, so we sometimes need to add some. But while it’s great for the crop, if too much phosphorus gets into water, it causes algae. To make sure that this doesn’t happen, we have buffer zones surrounding our sediment ponds to keep everything in its rightful place.