Pre-planting activities are very important; they are the foundation on which builds the success and survival of the crop. Most farmers experience agricultural crop failure because of the failure in the pre-planting operations.
The reason why well-prepared land holds great significance in agriculture is that it regulates weed growth and provides a fertile soil mass for transplanting. It is done to enhance the successful establishment of the young offshoots or the tissue cultured plants that are obtained from nurseries. This process also helps in recycling the nutrients of the plants and provides an ideal soil texture for direct seeding.
There are different stages of land preparation; each more significant and strenuous than the other. The marriage of these smaller steps together become the base for a healthy harvest. The steps required in the preparation of land involve:
Clearing the field
When you’re preparing your land for planting, you’re very likely to need to clear some land. This involves removing unwanted vegetation, underbrush and “trash trees” (fast growing trees that aren’t valuable or useful) as well as removing rocks and other obstructions from the soil. The more cleared land you have, the more crops you can grow and the more livestock you can keep.
It’s best if you can determine your overarching plan right from the start and clear the land you need all at once. This will save you money, time and effort.
Once your land is cleared, you can move forward unhampered to carry out your plans of farming. You’ll find it’s much easier to get things done when you have unsightly underbrush, trash trees, rocks and other obstacles out of the way.
Additionally, having your land nicely cleared can increase your property value.
First plowing or tilling
Technically, plowing is a type of tilling. However, it usually connotes a more specific kind of ‘tilling’ .Plowing is the more intense version of tilling. Instead of scraping the topsoil for a casual sift through, plowing is the forceful overturning and mashing of the soil to reveal the soil underneath the topsoil. This will unearth the worm colonies lurking beneath the soil. It also crushes any trash, small plants, and weed roots along the way. This brings fresh nutrients to the surface while burying the remains of previous crops, allowing them to break down.
Both tilling and plowing are good for the soil. They’re both needed to cultivate your farm properly.
Tilling prepares the soil so your plants will germinate and grow efficiently in an even ground.
With tilling, you have to watch out on how often you do it. Over tilling is where you till your ground more than necessary that it becomes too stiff. It would also lose its ability to hold moisture.
On the other hand, tilling a flooded muddy soil will clog it. It would also dry out faster than how you should want it.
Plowing refreshes the planting field by overturning a brand new layer of soil. However, you want to wait until the soil that you previously buried through plowing has had the time to break down and develop. Plowing every month is unnecessary and counter-productive. It’s better to do this once or twice a year.
Harrowing removes dead thatch, lifts vegetation up and levels any mole hills. Its job is to allow air movement and root aeration which helps the soil to breathe and improves water infiltration. It reduces disease by exposing fungi and bacteria to sunlight which is essential for the health of the pasture.
Timing is critical and ideally harrowing should be undertaken in dry, warm conditions, as this allows the harrowed droppings to dry out and kill any parasites.
Reasons for harrowing include:
- Pasture renovation; breaking up and leveling heavy soil.
- Removal of dead grass from the base of healthy grass.
- Helping to remove lightly rooted weeds.
- Root aeration; for better water infiltration and growth.
- Works in fertilizer to both spread and maximize effectiveness.
- Surface leveling in equestrian centers, race tracks, and running tracks.
- Stimulates growth by aerating and tearing out thatch.
- Environmentally friendly grass care.
- Seed bed preparation.
- Excellent for ripping out moss, spreading manure, and leveling mole hills.
Land leveling is the process of modifying the surface relief by smoothening it. It is the process of flattening or modifying existing (natural) slopes or undulations and thereby creating a level surface. Normally land leveling requires excavation and movement of earth from higher elevations to lower elevations.
It is important to level the field after plowing because:
- It helps in breaking/crushing the lumps formed after plowing.
- It helps to reduce water logging.
- Plowing creates air spaces and loosens the soil. Leveling it prevents the top layer of soil from being eroded by wind.
- Leveled soil has good water retaining capacity and provides uniform moisture supply to the plants.
- It also helps to prevent excessive evaporation of water.
- The seeds sown are well set into the soil.
Land preparation is important to ensure that the field is ready for planting. A well-prepared field controls weeds, recycles plant nutrients, and provides a soft soil mass for transplanting and a suitable soil surface for direct seeding. The purpose is to provide the best soil conditions which will enhance the successful establishment of the tissue culture plants. It is one of the measures used to control crop diseases & pest invasion.
For more information, contact Mazero Agrifood on 0729777711.