Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Reuse, Reduce, Recycle.... Farmer Style

When I was growing up Earth Day was about walking the area around the school picking up trash. We also "studied" the 3 R's... Reuse,Reduce, and Recycle! Today, as a farmer, I reflect on Earth Day. There is not much that has changed, just perhaps implemented a bit differently. Farmers are some of the original Earth friendly people! Here is just a peek at some of Earth friendly things we do at Heger Farms.

As I reflect on our farm and what we do each day the 3 R's stand out and stand strong.

Reuse: There are many items that we we use... tires, wood, bolts, tubing, brackets, seed bags, chemical tubs, machinery, towel, T-shirts, etc. We have a fine collection of items that get transformed in to new objects, art, tools, pipe plugs, rags, new pieces of machinery, etc. each and every day. Even items that have been laying around for awhile, find new ways to be used. We feel that almost eveything has a second life in one way or another. Yes, even livestock poop is reused.. it's great fertilizer!

Reduce: Our farm is a minimum till farm. We work very hard and with intent to minimize the amount of soil disruption each planting and harvest season. This means that in the spring we do not turn the soil over to make it "pretty" and black. We have chosen machinery that allows us to plant our crop into the soil with only a small path of disruption. This means that the nutrients and top soil do not get blown or washed away. In addition, through research and technlogy, we have been able to plant a pinto bean variety that stands tall, called upright pinto beans that can be solid seeded, or seeded without spaces between rows. Solid seeding helps control weeds and untintentional crops ( from pervious years seeds in the ground) This also means we can eliminate tilling the soil 2 times before planting, cultivating between rows 2 times, taking time and fuel to cut them and and then combine rows.
Leaving stubble ( see above pic) also helps develop nutrient and maintain value in the soil so that farmers do not have to apply them to grow a healthy crop.
We also are able to reduce the amounts of fertilizer, chemical and seed usage on our farm. With cutting edge precision agricultural technology we know what fields, or parts of fields, produce the best. We also know the nutient makeup of the soil in various parts of each field. This information allows us to adjust the fertilizer, seeds, and chemicals so that we do not use more seed than what the land can produce, and product for that specific plant in a specific part of a field.

Recycle: On our farm there are several products that we could recycle... the most common is oil. We collect the used oil from our vehicles and machinery. About once a year a company comes and picks it up. They then pay us for the oil... this becomes the money that we invest back into the farm, our kids, and some of their 4-H projects!

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