IMG_1780.JPG Before there was lots of expensive powered cultivating equipment farmers relied on the plow, tines and rollers. As the soil dried out running a roller over the field crushed the soil clods into nice friable soil. You have to get the timing right but it is a simple and effective tool in the right hands. You can vary the pressure on the soil by the speed of the tractor and the weight of the roller. That is a rolling tank of water, we can add or remove water to add weight. Our Sundance Disk is what is called a conservation tillage tool. It only cultivate the top 6” of soil. In this way we do not mix the soil through the deep profile. The nutrients left by the chickens stay on top as do all the soil microflora that need air to breathe. The ridges produced by the disk need to be rolled to prevent any of the soil drying out hard, too quickly. A couple of sunny and windy days even at this time of the year can dry a soil clod too far and it will not break up with the roller. Jose and I were in one of our fields yesterday looking at the crops. We saw some nutrient deficiencies which did not make immediate sense as this field has come out of a sabbatical year with pasture and chickens. After the pasture the field was disked, ground mined gypsum was spread ( to add calcium). The field was then deeply cultivated to break up any compaction left after 11 years of vegetable production. The field was disked again to smooth it out and then the beds were marked out with a GPS controlled tractor. We believe that the deep cultivation and heavy disking mixed the soil profiles too much. The soil microflora has not had time to recover and some of our nutrients are now deep in the soil profile. They are not lost, we just have to wait for deeper rooting crops to recover them. The work on the field was very important, we do not regret it one bit. It was just an important observation for us to make and digest.