Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Sowing spring crops

Now the weather is warmer and the daylength longer, it's a key time to be planting and sowing spring crops. I've been busy preparing ground for the direct drilled (sowed) crops in particular, such as carrot, beetroot and green manures. Here is a picture of my new toy, a Stanhay seed drill, circa 1984 and will probably last me out! They're solid bits of kit that drill crops very precisely.

Here, believe it or not, is a field of carrots. The machine is actually put here for effect because I drilled this a few weeks ago; the tiny carrots are just poking through now, but will pick up quick and in a month's time will rocket away. Once they get a bit bigger I'll hoe the field to knock back the first weeds, then put fleece over the whole field to prevent carrot root fly. The fleece will probably stay on until all the carrots have been picked later in the summer.

The seed drill was an incredibly important invention, allowing the move to row crops - meaning weeding was possible and seed was used more efficiently. It's very simple but very effective. The row is opened up at the correct depth, a seed dropped in the furrow from a hopper, a chain covers the furrow with soil and the back wheel firms over the soil.

All of it is driven from the back wheel, through a single belt. Meanwhile, the next row is being marked out for you; get the first row right and all the rest will be straight! These exact machines can be bolted on to an attachment for a tractor, mounting as many as the tractor can pull through the soil.

Simple, appropriate technology.

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