It’s true. Farmers haven’t always done the best job taking care of the land. Generally not on purpose, but because we didn’t always know what was the best way. But we have learned SO MUCH in the last hundred, fifty, and even five years. Modern farmers are getting better and better at taking care of the land everyday!
Terraces have been a big part of taking care of the land on our farm. Here in northern Missouri the hills can be quite rolling, thunderstorms can be very severe, and ditches, gullies, and streams abound! Terraces are rows of dirt made around the shape of a hill that stop the soil from being washed away. In the above photo you can see the terrace lines through the snow. They are made with a bulldozer, which carefully pushed the dirt into a pattern designed just for that field. It costs a lot to build new terraces, but they should last more than 20 years, making them a good investment for our future.
When the bulldozer is gone, however, the field is sometimes left in poor shape. The heavy equipment crushes the dirt and leaves deep tracks. Seeds can’t grow well in the hard, uneven dirt, so something has to be done. That’s when Daddy (and Anna!) pull out this strange contraption. Its a field cultivator. The arrow shaped pieces of metal in the front stir up the soil and the spikes in the back smooth it out, ready for tiny seeds!
I took these pictures, however, because this is a sight you won’t see often on our farm. A field cultivator leaves the soil nice and smooth, but it also leaves it loose and ready to wash away in the next thunderstorm. Once the seeds begin to grow their roots will help hold the dirt in place, preventing washouts, but for a few months this ground is vulnerable. We only use the field cultivator when it is truly necessary and then we only use it exactly where we need it.
Here you can see the tractor driving on the top of the dirt mound with the cultivator repairing the ground on both sides. You can also see that Daddy and Anna are driving only on the terraces, not the whole field.
Spring (should it ever bother to arrive) is a time for lots of dirt work. Follow us here on Daddy’s Tractor to see more of what farmers are learning about taking care of the land!