With more and more consumers shying away from agricultural products grown using chemicals, many small farmers are making the switch to organic farming techniques in order to increase profitability. Maintaining your organic status means ensuring that no chemicals come into contact with your produce, which can make pest control a challenge.
Here are three natural, yet effective pest control tactics you can employ on your small farm without risking your organic status in the future.
1. Use bigger predators to get rid of slugs.
Slugs can wreak havoc on your harvest, and managing these pests can be a challenge when chemical control tactics aren’t an option. Fortunately, Mother Nature has provided a simple way for you to eliminate slugs without risking chemical exposure.
Relying on larger predators (like chickens or ducks) to manage slugs for you can be effective. These larger predators eat the slugs without damaging your crop, and they can even help fertilize your fields as they work. Turn a flock of chickens or ducks loose if you have a slug problem, and let nature take its course to manage slugs without chemicals.
2. Attract hoverflies to get rid of aphids.
Aphids are small pests that can cause a significant amount of damage if their populations are left unchecked. While conventional farmers can use chemical sprays to treat their crops for aphid infestations, you don’t have that luxury if you want to maintain your organic status. Attracting hoverflies to your fields can be a simple way to get rid of aphids.
Hoverflies eat aphids, so the more hoverflies are in the area where an aphid infestation is present, the quicker you can resolve your pest problem. Attract hoverflies to your fields by intermingling sweet alyssum plants in with your crop. These flowers are a beacon for aphid-eating hoverflies.
3. Use row covers to eliminate cucumber beetles.
If you grow cucumbers or melons to sell to the public, you know how devastating cucumber beetles can be. These pests not only wreak havoc on your yield counts, but they can transmit deadly bacteria wilt throughout your crop. Eliminating cucumber beetles through chemical measures isn’t an option for your organic crop, but you can use row covers to effectively curb beetle populations.
Row covers are simply large structures made from plastic materials that can be placed over rows of plants. Row covers allow sunlight and moisture to get in, but keep pests like the cucumber beetle out.
Taking the time to identify some organic pest control tactics will help you keep your crops in good condition without compromising your harvest’s organic status.
When you decide that you want to move out of the city and into the country to change up your lifestyle, there are many different ways that you can go about building your new life. However, if you are looking to build a sustainable and organic lifestyle for yourself, there are certain steps that you will need to take. Get to know a few of the steps that you should take to create an organic family farm for yourself and your family so that you can build a life that you can be proud of.
If You Want Your Crops To Be Organic, Everything Should Be
Organic farming can be complicated to get started on, but simple to keep up with one you have everything figured out. One of the factors that you need to consider is that the fertilizers and other products you use on any of your farmland should be organic in order to maintain continuity. This means that even the grass lawn surrounding your house, your flower gardens, and your family’s personal vegetable garden should all be managed sustainably and organically.
As such, you will want to be sure that you purchase and use organic fertilizer (from an outlet such as Nature Safe) for grass and other plants surrounding your farmhouse. This will help keep your crops purely organic if soils get mixed for some reason or even from walking through your yard to your nearby fields. Of course, you will also be living by example and ensuring that your family and home are free of pesticides and chemicals that could prove to be harmful to you and your family.
Know Your Land’s History
In order to produce certified organic crops or products, the land on which you farm must be free of residual chemicals and pesticides. According to USDA regulations, this means that farm land must be free of such non-organic substance for at least three years in order to begin practicing organic farming (and to qualify to use the organic label).
It is important if you recently purchased your land that you ask the previous owners for a history of the products used on the soil so that you know when you can begin the organic certification process. During this transition period, you can still grow crops and are encouraged to till and maintain the land, but you will not legally be able to state your produce is organic.
Network With Other Organic Farmers
Organic farming can bring about special challenges, especially when trying to prevent pests from damaging your crops or even if you are trying to get certified. If you are serious about sustainability and the organic way of life, then you should be sure that you build a network of fellow organic farmers and enthusiasts for support.
Having a network of peers will help you overcome any challenges you will face in building your organic family farm and will also help you to feel as if you are not alone in facing those challenges. The more support you have in your efforts to build a better, cleaner life for yourself and your family, the more successful you will be in the process.
Now that you know a few of the steps that you should take to begin creating an organic family farm, you can be sure that you go about the process deliberately and successfully.
When you depend on a fuel source to keep your operations running smoothly, you need to have the security in knowing that your energy source is reliable, available, and affordable.
As a farmer, you have control over these factors when you use propane.
Take control and stock up on propane when prices and demand are low.
Having tanks topped off when prices are low makes sound economic sense. As long as your propane tanks are regularly inspected, all leaks are repaired, and damaged tanks are replaced with good ones, you can safely fill them and use the propane in the future since propane won’t “go bad” like other fuels.
Propane may damage fittings and parts in regulators over time, so you do need to have tanks checked each time you have them refilled. Some tanks have an expiration date as well, which is the date by which the tank must be refurbished or replaced. Your propane supplier will help you determine which types of tanks you have and will be happy to provide your farm with upgraded tanks as your fuel needs increase.
Stocking up also helps you alleviate the backups in propane delivery that may occur due to processing issues, transportation problems, or severe weather. Also, when crop yields are good, more farmers will be using harvesting equipment, grain dryers, and other curing equipment that runs off propane. These busy times may mean your propane delivery will be delayed when you need it the most if you wait too late to order fuel.
Modern grain dryers and other propane-powered tools are more efficient than ever.
Propane has always been considered a clean, green fuel, and upgrades in agricultural equipment make that reputation even more true today.
One study found a 10% reduction in maintenance and fuel costs when updated grain dryers were used. Over time, that represents a significant amount of operating cash that you can use for other farm needs.Whether you use propane for irrigation, grain storage, tractors, or barn heating, there are new propane agricultural tools available that use propane more efficiently and have better safety features than your old equipment.
The Propane Education and Research Council (PERC) is very committed to helping farmers upgrade their agricultural equipment. PERC offers a plan called the the Farm Incentive Program to help farmers share their experiences using newer equipment. Your farm agrees to purchase one of the designated propane-powered agricultural items, monitor its performance, note its maintenance needs, and report your observations to the program sponsors. This initiative is designed to help farmers offset the cost of investing in upgrades while educating all agricultural producers about the pros and cons of new ag production products.
Stay ahead of the game by keeping your propane topped off and by investing in the most efficient, technologically advanced propane equipment for your specific farm operations. Research further online, such as http://www.averyoilandpropane.com
They weren’t there last night, but when you woke up this morning they were all over the place. Like magic, a carpet of plump mushrooms has unexpectedly sprouted in your otherwise perfectly green lawn. This article will discuss why your yard suddenly has this surprise and what your best options are for getting rid of them.
What Are Mushrooms
Mushrooms seem to appear “out of nowhere” because they are actually only a small manifestation of something much larger that’s going on underneath your yard. Below the grass, fungi are growing in long filaments known as hyphae. These hyphae form a criss-crossed thatch in the soil, feeding on decaying organic material. Because they speed up the natural composting of organic matter, the presence of hyphae in your yard can actually be beneficial as they work to free up key nutrients for use by plants.
If these fungi are thriving underground, then when conditions are ripe they shoot up a reproductive structure, and voila: mushrooms! The visible mushrooms are used to distribute very tiny spores that act like seeds and distribute future fungi.
The Good News
While mushrooms may seem unsightly, they generally don’t pose a horticultural threat to your lawn and don’t cause any lawn “diseases.” In fact, because of how they break down organic matter they may be partially responsible for your otherwise good-looking grass.
The Bad News
Although mushrooms aren’t inherently dangerous to other plants, they can be very poisonous and care must be taken to prevent young children and pets from sneaking a snack. If the unseen hyphae become too thickly matted underground they can also choke off grass roots, preventing them from getting needed air and water, eventually turning a once-lush lawn brown.
So what should you do? Unfortunately, eradicating the underlying fungi is virtually impossible. However, here are a few steps you can do to keep them in check:
Left to their own devices, most mushrooms will dry out and disappear within a few days. Of course, during that interim they will be busy spreading spores. While picking a mushroom won’t hurt the hyphae down below, removing the mushroom quickly will prevent them from distributing as many “seeds.”
Most mushrooms thrive in cool, damp environments. If you regularly water your yard, consider backing off a little. Most lawns can survive with only a good dousing every week or two. Reducing your watering will both help your grass develop stronger roots while making the circumstances less desirable for mushrooms.
Using a nitrogen-rich fertilizer can also help. The nitrogen will help strengthen your grass. It will also speed up the decomposition of organic matter, leaving less for the mushroom-makers to munch on.
Don’t Use Fungicide
While there are lots of fungicides available on the market, none of them are effective against mushroom hyphae. Spare yourself the cost, labor, and exposure to chemicals by not using fungicide to in your fight against mushrooms.
Most yard-enthusiasts encounter mushrooms at some point or another in their lawn care. Keep these tips in mind the next time you find yourself surprised by one of these odd-looking lawn ornaments.
To learn more about lawn care, contact a company like Valley Green Companies.
Evergreen trees are a beautiful way to add a little natural style to your yard, but they are prone to infestation by insects and vermin that can kill them in less than a season. One of the most destructive of these creatures is the spruce budworm. Learn all you can about this disgusting creature to avoid letting it ruin your trees.
The spruce budworm is an insect that is relatively harmless in its adult state, but which is responsible for massive defoliation of white spruce across the country. The larvae of these creatures attack the needles and shoots of the spruce and eat them to help spur on their natural life cycle.
The adult is a brown moth-type creature, while the larvae are small, white worms that are very hard to see due to their small size and their tendency to bore directly into the surface of needles and shoots.
When the larvae of the spruce budworm burrow into the needles, they start to feed. After the budworms reach a certain size, they bust out of the needle and sever it. Then they cast a web in which they capture other severed needles that they can eat. This has the impact of slowly defoliating an entire tree, which in turn can lead to its slow death: trees infested with the spruce budworm usually die one year after initial defoliation.
Unchecked spruce budworm infestations have been known to completely devastate a local environment. For example, a study of an infestation in British Columbia was found to cover 3.2 million hectares in 2013, a jump from 2.2 of the year before. That’s roughly the size of Belgium. Even worse, experts estimate that 90% of the trees infested with the spruce budworm in that area are likely to die.
Range of Infestation
The spruce budworm is often broken up into two different species: the eastern and western budworm. They are basically the same creature and are both heavily destructive in various parts of the northern United States and Canada.
For example, the western spruce budworm is present in:
Eliminating spruce budworms for your trees requires patience and a variety of control techniques. A combination of the following control methods should kill off many of your tree’s invaders:
Now that you have an insight into the spruce budworm, use that information to get it out of your yard and your trees forever. If you don’t think you can handle it on your own, call a tree services expert, such as Tidd Tree, as soon as possible.
Whether it’s a small home orchard or a larger operation, weed control around the trees is vital. Not only does it make access for care and harvesting simpler, weeds also compete with the trees for necessary nutrients and water. A soft covering of grass is the perfect mulch in your orchards. The grass provides a mulch, which helps cool the soil, retains moisture, and prevents the topsoil from rinsing away. This guide will help you implement a grass mulching plan in your orchard.
The area beneath the trees is obviously shaded, which rules out many of the sun-loving turf grasses. For this reason, St. Augustine grass is a natural choice, since it thrives in shade. It’s one drawback is that it can take several months to establish, during which time regular weed control is necessary. It becomes fairly low maintenance once it is growing well.
Annual ryegrasses are another option, since they can grow and establish quickly without the need for the initial establishment period required of St. Augustine. Their primary drawback is that they will need to be reseeded annually to ensure a lush ground cover.
Grass provides additional benefits in the orchard, beyond those listed above. Grasses, like most green foliage plants, contain a lot of nitrogen. Nitrogen is a necessary component for healthy plant growth, including the growth of trees. Leaving the grass clipping on the ground to decompose between the orchard trees returns this nitrogen to the ground, where it can aid future plant growth.
Organic mulches, such as straw, are sometimes used instead of grass. Although these keep down weeds and conserve water, they also can harbor insects and disease organisms, or provide hiding and nesting sites for small rodents. These pests can then attack your fruit trees. Healthy grass is generally free of these pests.
Caring for grass mulch beneath the fruit trees is fairly straightforward. The grass will require fertilization with a lawn fertilizer in spring, followed by mowing to control the height for orchard access. Keeping a small ring of soil bare just around the base of each tree can minimize the chances of lawnmower damage to the tree trunks.
Grass also requires watering, although grasses like St. Augustine can generally survive brief dry periods and will green up again when the moisture returns. Usually natural rainfall combined with the irrigation necessary for the fruit trees is sufficient to keep the grass healthy.
For more information, contact a company like California Sod Center.