“No one would think of settling upon a raw piece of land, expecting it at once to yield a harvest. Earnestness, diligence, and persevering labor are to be put forth in treating the soil preparatory to sowing the seed. Unless hard work is bestowed on the soil, it will not yield a harvest.”
Ellen G. White, 1900.
One of the greatest satisfactions in life is to see the end result of your work converted into an abundant harvest with excellent quality produce. Nevertheless, this is not usually obtained without effort.
Whereas there are many things to take into consideration like choosing good seeds, or setting up good irrigation, one of the most important steps is to make sure that you do the necessary preparations, or everything else will be worthless. We are talking about soil preparation.
Why you should prepare the soil before sowing
Soil preparation before planting is the key to a bountiful harvest. Few things are as important in agriculture as optimizing the conditions of the terrain you intend to farm.
Until a few decades ago this work was extremely tough. However, every year the market offers new machines and tools like the Automatic Broadfork that make the work easier and reduce the time you have to invest in your land. Now you have no excuse to skip adequate soil preparation.
What are the main reasons why you should prepare the soil?
Crops will increase yield by more than 30%. Since the soil conditions allow the seeds to germinate with a higher success rate, plant roots develop healthily, which means stronger and more productive plants with high quality fruits.
Optimizes air circulation. Your crops will perform better if roots develop in substrates where carbon dioxide concentration is low with higher oxygen levels.
It can help reduce weed growth.
Improves drainage. A fluffy soil would not have hard layers that retain water and limit root growth. Natural soil nutrients and added fertilizers are fully utilized.
Machinery and tools: your allies for soil preparation
For this type of work you have a variety of tools designed to make your life easier. A favorite among market gardeners is the versatile ELLIA 3000 that features three tools in one, being everything a small scale farmer needs to prepare the soil for seeding.
These are the features that any equipment you want to use in farming must have:
- Built with strong and long lasting materials. Remember that any machine will have to do heavy work. It must be able to withstand weight, traction, impact and harsh weather conditions such as intense sunlight and rain.
- Easy to repair. Equipment that is complicated and expensive to maintain will be a hindrance to you in the long run, cutting off your efficiency and profitability.
- Easy to keep in running order. Make sure you have what you need to keep an engine running, either fuel or electricity.
- Compatible with interchangeable accessories. Why have three or four different tools? It is much better and cheaper to have one with different accessories.
How to prepare the soil?
Getting the soil ready for seeding depends on several factors, and the most important is to know what type of soil you have and what its needs are. This will let you know if you should make a deep preparation or a superficial treatment will be enough.
The following steps encompass what would be the basic process for any type of terrain:
- Decompacting: It may be difficult to break up new ground that has never been cultivated before. For this task heavier/bigger machinery might be required, but once the soil has been broken once, light cost-effective machinery will be enough to maintain your soil condition: like the Curly’s Cracker 2 automatic broadfork. This tool is your perfect helper for making deep penetrations that allow oxygen, water, and microorganisms to access the deeper layers of your soil, thus improving it and decompacting it in the long run.
- Homogenize: Make the top layer uniform, eliminating large lumps. For this, the Ellia 3000 or the Eco Harrow are good tools. You may still need to rake at the end if there’s too much green manure or rocks.
- Fertilize: Add organic matter and fertilizers as needed. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using phytosanitary products.
- Weed control: the best weed control strategy is good management and early action. Hand tools are best for this, while the weeds have not yet sprouted or are in the white thread state. For grown weeds, it is best to use Weed Burners that use heat to kill weeds instead of harmful chemicals.
If you do not know the characteristics of your soil, it is advisable to get a soil test done and consult an expert for the best ways to get the most out of your crops.