Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Sloping Agricultural Land Technology

Here Garlic is planted and just to the right strawberries grow.
Sloping Agricultural Land Technology


My property is one big slope, yet I wanted to grow vegetables. I started by making steps and large steps at that. The steps are anywhere from 20 inches wide to 36 inches wide. The reality is that I did not measure any of them. I went by guessing the space needed for any vegetable. However, the steeper the slop the closer the rows and the flatter the slop the wide the rows should be. 
"Bear in mind that poor soil makes a poor farmer". So the most important is the soil, and that is true in all cases not just slopped land but flat land, as well. In dealing with slopped land the equation is multiplied with erosion. Topsoil is the most valuable soil there is in terms of availability. It takes nearly 100 years to produce 1 inch of topsoil and erosion can wash it away quickly.
When plowing or planting following the contour lines of the land. The contour line runs from one end of the garden to the other end. By following the contour line the is less erosion. 
Of the many vegetables that I grow, I like tomato plants a lot. it just fascinates me to see them produce.  My favorite thing to do is single-stem growth. Where I plant seedlings about 16 inches apart and as they grow I remove any sprout that would otherwise become a branch. I allow a set of leaves and a set of blooms. Doing this all the way up the main trunk.   This allows airflow and sunlight this is a great combination that not only results in a higher quality of fruit, it also cuts back on the plant disease. It is also important that mulch is placed 3 to 4 inches thick around the plants and the removal of leaves that touch the ground. 
This is a very productive row of heirloom tomato plants. As I developed each “step” I added wood on the lower end of the ‘step’ to maintain the soil.
In this photo, you can see the slope that I am working on and how this is one way to utilize a sloped property.

The study of the Asian agriculture system known as SALT or "Sloping Agricultural Land Technology.” will be beneficial for both domestic and commercial education and implementation.  Putting into practice is the most important part of any education.  Your most important goal is protecting the soil and ensuring that there will be topsoil for many generations to come. Always think of it this way. What you eat from the ground required soil to produce and if you did not protect and revitalize the soil's nutrients with more than what you took out in the form of produce, then your growing methods are not sustainable.   
One method SALT teaches is the growth of nitrogen-fixing plants in between the contours of food production.  There will be an area 15 feet or so that grows nothing but legumes or upland rice. I actually grew upland rice during 2019 Season only for the fun of it. I now know that the production grain can be used to grow rows of nitrogen and that is a neat find for me. 

SALT technology of soil conservation and food production is only one aspect of growing. You also need to grow the field and permanent nitrogen-fixing crops in wide bands between the contoured rows. When the growth of this row is about 3 or 4 foot tall it is cut down to about 1 to 2 foot and the cuttings are used in the alleyways to serve as organic matter.
To some extent I have been doing this by allowing the surrounding grasses to grow tall, cutting them and then using the cutting on the garden slope beds. I think that I will tweak this some during the next growing season.

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