COVER CROPS, COMPOST, MANURE & IRRIGATION
Cover crops are plants grown in a field to support the field's health rather than for their own harvest. The use of cover crops - such as legumes, buckwheat and tillage radish - builds soil organic matter, suppresses weeds, addresses nutrient deficiencies, and improves the soil's drainage and tilth.
Manure and compost are very valuable soil amendments. Particularly when combined with cover crops, manure and compost are integral to any long-term and balanced approach to soil health. Manure is sometimes applied fresh to pasture or hay fields, or to vegetable fields that are in fallow, but we primarily apply manure that has been composted for up to or over a year. In our compost piles, we mix in bedding from horse stalls, vegetable scraps, wood ash and other organic materials.
Irrigation in the fields can be critical to ensure crop health and quality. However, we prefer to irrigate as little as possible. Our preference is to build up a high level of organic matter and to select for crops that do well under less coddled conditions. When we do irrigate, we aim for efficient and targeted use of water to benefit the crops and soils and to suppress the weeds.