You may have noticed a lot of machinery and equipment photos and #playinginthedirt appearing quite regularly on our Instagram account and Facebook page over the past few weeks. We have a few major field-scaping projects on the go right now. I often say that fall work is “bonus work” because you can never count on the weather cooperating to get it done. However, some of you might be wondering, why would they even want to do that work in the first place?
What is field-scaping?
This is my made-up term to refer to any large-scale, dirt-moving project around our farm. This includes the removal or relocation of soil, rocks or trees.
So, why bother?
There are three main reasons we embark in these projects:
1. Improved efficiency: The main reason we are engaging in our current clean up projects is to improve efficiency. We are concerned about efficiency for a variety of reasons, particularly time, cost and environmental responsibility. Every time we drive around mid-field obstacles, we lose efficiency.
· Increased work time required to complete a task (people and equipment)
· Increased use of fuel
· Increased overlap of inputs (seed) or treatments (spray)
2. Increased tillable acres: Many fields have changed purpose, shape, size and configuration over the years as land has changed hands. We have several fields that were once home to various buildings and fence lines. For instance, our current project involves removing several old stone foundations located in the middle of fields and cleaning up stone piles and debris along a path between fields. This clean up-project will results in a few more tillable acres.
Note: A by-product of cleaning up old building sites is prevention of arson or vandalism associated with abandoned yard sites.
3. Water management: Water is a valuable resource in crop production. We do not have any irrigation or tile drainage on the land we farm, so water conservation, collection and distribution via Mother Nature plays a large part in our farming operation. However, there are times when we wish to complete projects to improve drainage on our own property, for instance, to reduce erosion during spring run-off.
Note: Water management is a highly regulated aspect of farming, and major watershed projects that would affect neighboring properties or water supplies require multiple layers of approval.
So, while big kids like to play in the dirt just as much as little kids, this playing has some method behind the madness.