I’ve been growing cut flowers, sweet corn, ornamental corn
and pumpkins for several years. I’m starting to add more vegetables
and herbs to the rotation. The transplanting and pumpkins are done
by hand and the direct seeding is with an Earth-Way push seeder.
The weed control is with a tiller, hands and hoes.
Well, the good news is that marketing has caught up with and surpassed
production. The bad is that weed control is falling way behind.
So now I’m trying to decide on equipment that will increase
efficiency and hopefully do a better job. Not being experienced
with these tools or knowing any vegetable farmers that don’t
use herbicides, I’m writing for advice.
I have a 56-HP, four-wheel drive tractor with 42 inches between
the tires. I use a three-bottom, 14-inch plow and a 6-foot tiller
for ground preparation and cover crop incorporation. (Eventually
I want a small chisel plow). After looking at a Market Farm Implement
catalogue, I think I’ve come up with a wish list that will
work and I can afford.
I was thinking of getting a raised-bed plastic mulch layer for
use in transplanting and a Williams tool system to cultivate on
non-mulched raised beds. I was also looking at the three-row Jang
Automation Clean Seeder (Mechanical Transplanter Co.) on a three-point
toolbar, and a fertilizer attachment that could hopefully go on
the mulch layer or cultivator. I plan to use guide cones with both
the seeder and cultivator.
Does this seem like a system that will work together, or do you
foresee any problems? Are there other seeders out there that are
reasonably precise but don’t cost an arm and leg? I’m
hoping to shift the problems back from growing and cultivating to
harvest and marketing, as it was before. If you can recommend a
better system, or individual tools, that would be great, too.
Thanks for the letter and for reading New Farm. I can see that
you've really done your homework here. Market Farm Implement is
a reputable company and the owners have a wealth of hands-on knowledge
with the tools and equipment they sell. I'm sure they can answer
your specific question on the compatibility of the tools you have
I use a William Tool Bar system here at Rodale and I find that
it works well in our soils and crops. We also use a two-row conventional
cultivator that fits onto the three-point hitch. I think the plan
you have laid out is a solid one based on reasonable expenditures
for flexible and high-quality equipment. If you plan on using drip
tape, get the attachment for the plastic-mulch layer.
These tools will certainly allow you to speed up your plant and
weed management, and they should give you the control and flexibility
you need for various crops and alleviate some of that hand work.
You'll never get rid of it all, but hey—that's vegetables.
Good luck and stay in touch with how things work out.