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Small Farmer's Journal
PO Box 1627
Sisters, Oregon 97759
800-876-2893
541-549-2064
agrarian@smallfarmersjournal.com
Mon - Thu, 8am - 4pm PDT

norwayfarmFrom the pages of Farming For Security comes a short introduction to the benefits of grassland farming. Farming For Security was written in 1943, during one of the darkest and hardest times in American history: World War II. It focuses on how to make a sustainable lifestyle and future in agriculture, with an emphasis on rebuilding the country and the world with hope and hard work. This is truly an amazing book, so be sure to check out the links below to see more from it’s pages.

“Often the buyer of a farm will acquire a few acres of land that he does not need for a garden, a poultry establishment or other small-area uses. In other cases a good deal of land is included in the farm. Whatever the reason, the question is posed as to the use of that land. The following discussion is intended to assist in meeting this problem in the simplest method possible. Although the term “grassland farming” may seem to imply large-scale operations, this is not necessarily the case, since the owner of a small tract of sod land is just as anxious to utilize it properly as is the extensive livestock grower or rancher. Grassland farming is adapted to any size of farm and to all types of animal husbandry.

Grassland farming is the production of grasses and clovers of various types as a crop. There are two fundamental purposes in grassland farming: to hold and improve the soil and to make the operation pay dividends in the form of livestock. It is certainly the most economical type of agriculture. It consists simply of good soil preparation, the sowing of adapted seeds and harvesting. The harvesting process can be done by grazing or by mowing the standing hay and garnering it for one’s own animals or for sale. Thus the investment in machinery and equipment is kept at a minimum. Labor requirements are likewise very small. In these times a farm-labor shortage and demand for meat animals, grassland farming is ideally fitted to the new farmer. It keeps down his cost of labor, of overhead in machinery, requires little skilled labor, preserves and builds up the fertility of the soil and adds a sward of green lights and shadows to the landscape.

Lambing.01

Contrast this method of farming with the production of cultivated crops on extensive areas of one’s farm. With these crops one has the problems of annual plowing, soil preparation, planting, cultivation and harvesting, all of which require heavy investments in specialized machinery, unusual skill, the facing of seasonal hazards of moisture and frost, and the uncertainties that go with marketing and specialized cropping practices. Furthermore, it has been amply demonstrated that land in grass will improve with each year of use. This can hardly be said of the practice of growing cultivated crops in successive seasons.

Grassland farming is particularly well adapted to a majority of farms acquired by those entering the vocation for the first time. Most farms that are for sale are characterized by worn lands in a minor or major degree. There is no better tonic for such worn lands and in fact no substitute that is more valuable, than seeding these lands to grass. Many such farms have been subject to erosion of the gully or sheet movement type. Once these lands are seeded to grass, erosion problems are forgotten and the restoration process begins.

 

Many people have the impression that grassland farming is “dead” farming. They think there is no income to be derived from it and hence it is looked upon as a necessary but unproductive part of a crop rotation system. This is too limited a viewpoint.”

View more from Farming For Security:
STARTING SEEDS
PLANTING DIAGRAMS

Spotlight On: Crops & Soil

An Introduction To Farm Woodlands

The farm woodland is that portion of the farm which either never was cleared for tillage or pasture, or was later given back to woods growth. Thus it occupies land that never was considered suitable, or later proved unsuitable, for farm enterprises.

Evolution of a Permanent Bed System

Evolution of a Permanent Bed System

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After three or four years we could see that the nature of our farming practices would continue to have detrimental effects on our soils. We were looking for a new approach, a routine that would be sustainable, rather than a rescue treatment for an ongoing problem. We decided to convert our fields to permanent planting beds with grassy strips in between where all tractor, foot and irrigation pipe traffic would be concentrated.

Horsedrawn No-Till Garlic

Horsedrawn No-Till Garlic

We were inspired to try no-tilling vegetables into cover crops after attending the Groffs’ field day in 1996. No-tilling warm season vegetables has proved problematic at our site due to the mulch of cover crop residues keeping the soil too cool and attracting slugs. We thought that no-tilling garlic into this cover crop of oats and Canadian field peas might be the ticket as garlic seems to appreciate being mulched.

Fjordworks: Horse Powered Potatoes

Fjordworks: Horse Powered Potatoes

This is the account of how one farm put more horse power into the planting, cultivation, and harvesting of its potato crop. Ever since we began farming on our own in 1994 one of our principle aims has been the conversion of our farm operation to live horse power wherever feasible. This has meant replacing mechanized tools such as tractors and rototillers and figuring out how to reduce human labor as we expanded upon the labor capacity of our work horses.

Seed Quality from Two Perspectives

Seed Quality from Two Perspectives

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We are approaching this from a seed quality standpoint, not just a seed saving one. Saving seed is fairly simple to do, but the results from planting those seeds can be very mixed; without a basis of understanding of seed quality, people can be disappointed and confused as to why they got the results they did. Both the home gardener and the seed company must understand seed quality to be successful in their respective endeavors.

On-Farm Meat Processing

The demand for fresh, local meat products – with no taint of industrial process – is absolutely staggering.

Henpecked Compost and U-Mix Potting Soil

We have hesitated to go public with our potting mix, not because the formula is top secret, but because our greenhouse experience is limited in years and scale. Nevertheless, we would like to offer what we have learned in hopes of showing that something as seemingly insignificant as putting together a potting mix can be integrated into a systems approach to farming.

Ginseng Culture

Ginseng Culture

U.S. Department of Agriculture Farmer’s Bulletin No. 1184 Issued 1921, Revised 1941 — The evident preference of the Chinese for the wild root and the unsatisfactory state of the general market for cultivated ginseng have caused grave doubts as to the future prospects of the industry. These doubts will probably be realized unless growers should strive for quality of product and not for quantity of production, as has been the all too common practice in the past.

Lost Apples

Lost Apples

The mindboggling agricultural plant and animal diversity, at the beginning of the twentieth century, should have been a treasure trove which mankind worked tirelessy to maintain. Such has not been the case. Alas, much has been lost, perhaps forever. Here are images and information on a handful of apple varieties from a valuable hundred year old text in our library.

An Introduction Into Plant Polyculture

An excerpt from What’s Wrong With My Fruit Garden
Companion Planting for Beginners

What We've Learned From Compost

What We’ve Learned From Compost

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Our compost piles will age for at least a year before being added to the garden. We have learned that the slow aging is more beneficial to the decomposition process as well as not losing nearly as much nitrogen to off-gassing as happens with the hot and fast methods. Another benefit is the decomposition is much more thorough, destroying weed seeds, pathogens and any unwanted chemicals much better in a slower composting setup.

Cultivating Questions Ridge-Till Revisited

Cultivating Questions: Ridge-Till Revisited

Delay ridge building until early fall so that the cover crop on the ridge does not grow more than 12” tall before winter. The residues from a short cover crop will be much less challenging to cultivate than a tall stand of oats, especially if tangly field peas are mixed in. Waiting for the winterkilled cover crop residues to breakdown as long as possible before ridge-tilling in the spring will also make cultivation much easier until you gain familiarity with the system.

Apple Cider Autumns Nectar

Apple Cider, Autumn’s Nectar

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While autumn’s beauty is food for our souls, autumn’s harvest provides food for our tables. Along with the many hours and days of canning and freezing our garden produce, harvest time also means apple cider making for our family. We have been making apple cider, or sweet cider as it is commonly called, for six years. Beginning slowly, the demand for our juice has resulted in a production of over six hundred gallons this year.

Asparagus in Holland

Asparagus in Holland

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The asparagus culture in Holland is for the majority white asparagus, grown in ridges. This piece of land used to be the headland of the field. The soil was therefore compact, and a big tractor came with a spader, loosening the soil. After that I used the horse for the lighter harrowing and scuffle work to prevent soil compaction. This land lies high for Dutch standards and has a low ground water level, that is why asparagus can grow there, which can root 3 foot deep over the years.

Open-Pollinated Corn at Spruce Run Farm

Open-Pollinated Corn at Spruce Run Farm

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The old way of selecting seed from open-pollinated corn involved selecting the best ears from the poorest ground. I have tried to select perfect ears based on the open-pollinated seed corn standards of the past. I learned these standards from old agricultural texts. The chosen ears of Reid’s average from 9 to 10.5 inches long and have smooth, well-formed grains in straight rows. I try to select ears with grains that extend to the end of the cob.

Small Farmer's Journal

Small Farmer's Journal
PO Box 1627
Sisters, Oregon 97759
800-876-2893
541-549-2064
agrarian@smallfarmersjournal.com
Mon - Thu, 8am - 4pm PDT