There are more small family farms in
The globally syndicated
The primary considerations in intelligent farming, according to Powell, are water conservation and soil science. Powell and Kleyne agreed that the two are closely related. Healthy, nutritious, bio-active soils with high organic content retain far more water than soils with lower organic content. Crops grown in high organic soils require far less watering to achieve the same yield.
Soil organic content, Powell explains, is increased by not removing crop residue, mulching and off-season cover crops. Off season cover crops are especially important in states like
Organic content also creates heat as the material decomposes, Kleyne notes, which reduces the threat of soil freezing.
The suggested small farm practice, according to Powell, is to grow commodity crops in summer, such as hay, wheat, soy or corn, and "niche crops" in winter. Niche crops are small specialty crops sold directly to the local market. The purpose is to maintain organic content and maximize yield and profit between major harvests. The list of potential niche crops is endless and includes medicinal herbs, vegetables, heirloom crops and ethnic foods such as mung beans and chili peppers.
Niche crops may also be grown in greenhouses or in "high tunnels" in the off season, says Powell. A high tunnel is a temporary greenhouse or tent in which crops are planted directly into the ground and protected by the tent, which may be 100 feet long. Kleyne notes that some niche crops may also utilize the land underneath a forest canopy. Forest understory niche crops include morel mushrooms, hazelnuts, little princess pine for root beer, elderberries, blackberries, huckleberries, truffles, and much more.
Perennial commodity crops that are not replanted every year, such as grapes, apples, pears, walnuts or hay, do not require a winter cover crop but they will benefit from mulching and improvement of soil organic content.
OSU-SOREC's homepage; http://extension.oregonstate.edu/sorec/
Jenner, A, "5 things you need to know from the new farm census," Modern Farmer, Feb.20, 2014. http://modernfarmer.com/2014/02/6-things-need-know-new-farm-census/
Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/08/prweb12091858.htm
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