Time is money, and there is no one quite like the modern farmer who understands this overused cliche best! No matter the size of the farm or garden, it seems every task on the farm takes a considerably longer amount of time than one could begin to expect. Not to mention, the endless cycle of body aches and pains that persist with full-time farming… Of course, for those of us who hope to actually make a living via farming (…yes, it can be done!), we need to learn how to maximize our time in the fields and in the office with tools that don’t break our backs in the process. With just these five tools, you can expect to painlessly move about the farm with more efficiency and spend more time where it’s actually needed!
One of the most tedious jobs on the farm is the burden of hand-transplanting thousands of baby seedlings into row after row, often done on the hands and knees. This task, often taking up to 45 minutes for a single farmer, can be cut down to mere minutes with the paperpot transplanter. The paperpot transplanter is a non-mechanized tool that allows you to transplant hundreds, even thousands, of seedlings in record time. You lay the custom paperpot tray onto a small shelf, loosen and stake the first seedling at the start of the row, and walk the paperpot down your smooth and flattened beds in a straight line. It digs the trench, inserts the seedling, and covers each seedling with just one pass.
The biggest plus: no more hands and knees!
The dream of a weed-free farm can now be a reality for most farmers with the use of silage tarps. Silage tarps are large uv-treated ground cloths made of polyethylene that cover full sections on a farm. Lay these tarps out for as little as a month to clear an area of weeds completely. A combination of high temps and humidity, these tarps create the perfect environment for weed seed to sprout. Depriving any living or sprouting weeds of sunlight, the tarps completely eradicate all weeds while supplementing your soil with more organic matter. For heavily weeded areas, leave the tarps on for six months to a year. It’ll be worth the wait when you no longer find yourself spending whole days weeding your beds.
Another tool necessary in managing weeds on the farm is the flame weeder. Say goodbye to hand-weeding your densely planted carrots or arugula, and forget the chemicals! While there are various models of flame weeders today, you can expect that this farm technology will get rid of nearly 100% of weeds in their early growth stages. Simply fire up the flame weeder while you briskly walk up and down your rows, transforming newly sprouted weeds to ash in seconds. (Tip: After you direct seed your beds, cover with a silage tarp until you see weed sprouts, usually a couple of days. Remove tarp before crop germination, and flame weed!)
Densely-planting your greens like spring mix, arugula, and spinach is the only way to go if you want to see your profits soar, but you might find the cost of labor in hand-harvesting is just not worth it. Enter greens harvester. A greens harvester can cut the width of your bed allowing you to harvest pounds of greens with just a passover. They come in hand-held or push models, and some even have the option to attach a cordless drill to speed up the process faster than you can imagine!
Online Crop Management
On a diversified market farm, a farmer cannot afford to let beds sit fallow; empty beds, empty pockets. Making use of a crop management tool can ensure that you are propagating, transplanting, direct seeding, and harvesting on time. For years now, many farmers have utilized computerized spreadsheets to manage farm tasks; however, even these technologies are becoming outdated. There are several farm softwares out there today, such as COG-Pro, AgSquared, and Tend.ag, that allows you to enter your entire crop plan and automatically creates daily task lists for your farm based on your seed varieties and days-to-maturity. The best part? Most of these softwares offer apps for both iPhones and Androids, so you can pull up your task list in the field! If you find yourself spending too many hours in the office, an online crop management tool might be the key to your most productive season yet!