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Michelle & Douglas Bearmar  |  Black Mountain Pack Llamas Farm & Ranch  |  Ramona, CA

Subject: Walk-behind tractors

Hi I have a small market farm that I'm looking to expand out to a couple of acres ultimately and its painfully obvious that I can't do this all with hand labor. I've been looking at the walk behinds as an option...specifically the BCS models. Does anyone use these? If so, what are your opinions? They are a bit pricey so it would be a one shot deal...I wouldn't expect to have to replace it. I'm especially interested in durability, consistency with respect to reliability and versatility.

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Comments 13
04/12/18

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  |  Jellicles Farm  |  Sunol , CA commented

I agree with those who suggested no/low tillage practices for small acreage farms. I am one myself..but it is labour intensuve and expensive ..and without markets, loss making. The ONLY solution is automation through robotics. there is a sweet spot where automation can take care of labour intensive costs and everything can’t be automated..but IT IS POSSIBLE.

robotics and farming are both my passions but there isnt enough interest for people to develop tech that suits us. Small acreage farmers are at a disadvantage and we must stop seeing ourselves as peers to broad Acre farmers and corporate farmers. Those methods won’t work for us because the economies of scale are worked into their margins and they are mostly automated anyways. The only way is robotics and automation and tech.

but for industry to develop tech for us, we have to band together and collate data to be clear about what we

... Read More
04/17/18 10:27 AM

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FarmsReach Team  |  FarmsReach  |  Berkeley, CA

Subject: Transitions: Shermain Hardesty, former Director of UC Small Farm Program & 30 years serving CA f

Hot off the presses: the first blog in our mini-series interviewing a few respected leaders in the CA sustainable farming and agriculture movement who recently retired to a life of a bit more free time and freedom! In our first post, we share highlights (+ full transcript) from our conversation with Shermain Hardesty, former Director of the UC Small Farm Program.

Click to peruse her reflections on the past 30 years serving CA farmers and pontifications on the future of sustainable farming in California, including what new farmers should be tracking most closely, the future of Cooperative Extension, the role small farmers have in our future food system, and more... Enjoy!

Stay tuned for our next posts in the series: Ed Thompson of American Farmland Trust, and Tom Willey of T&D Willey Farms. If you know of other influential folks in the sustainable agriculture sector who have transitioned recently

... Read More

In Topics Washing, Packing & Packaging, Marketing & Sales, Food Safety, Equipment, Trucks, Delivery & Logistics, Business & Financial Planning, Farmland Conservation, Sales & Estate Planning, Beginning Farmers & Ranchers, Women in Agriculture, Policy

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Comment 0
03/30/18
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Lalitha Vish  |  Jellicles Farm  |  Sunol , CA

Subject: Robotics and Small Acreage Farms at Eco Farm

hello all,

happy new year!

I spoke at eco farm about robotics and small acreage farms here:

https://eco-farm.org/conference/2018/session/technology-rescue-will-robots-save-day-ag

there was a lot to cover but I just spoke about the main points.

i have attempted to upload the slides I presented there and I am keeping it here for a bit:

http://jellicle-cats.squarespace.com/jellicles2018/2018/1/26/vx5tk9ae9re0i0rfxmm3n9evglcmnu

if there are any points you’d like to discuss, we can take it from here.

I am also preparing a use case/ scenario document to figure out the development cost for my design‘s prototype.

Any input on how farmers visualize small acreage ag-bots on a use case basis is also good for us to discuss here.

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Comments 4
01/30/18

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  |  Jellicles Farm  |  Sunol , CA commented

Thanks, Paul. You make good points. Here are my thoughts:

1. Someone in our recent past thought that designing a tractor was a good idea. Or we would be plowing with horses or bullocks.

2. ag bots will replace mechanisation. And it will be cheaper. And more efficient.

3. Most importantly, they will be autonomous for repetitive tasks. You still need to hire someone to drive a tractor. With robots, code will drive your tractor.

4. The future generation wont know how to look at transmission but they will know how to fix buggy code. We have to build for them.

5. The average size of farms in other parts of the world..esp Asia is 3-7 acres. Tractors and pesticide use is bankrupting farmers. Perhaps we don’t see that much here because we grow a lot in CA for the rest of the country and what we cant grow, we import. It’s not a model of sufficiency but based on hedging and creation of deficits.

6.

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02/01/18 6:37 PM

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Sally Negroni  |  Sikes Road  |  Dixon, CA

Subject: Liquid fertilizer vs. compost or manure

A question for organic orchard growers: are you more likely to use compost or manures to supply nitrogen, along with a cover crop, or apply liquid nitrogen in your irrigation water? A friend has been giving me dried horse manure from his operation, and I have also purchased compost. I'm trying to decide if I should buy a manure spreader for the dry material, or look into a pump system to apply liquid fertilizer. While it would be easier to calculate the application amount with the liquid, I could be getting other benefits with the compost or manure. Thanks for any input.

In Topics Soil Fertility Management, Equipment

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Comments 4
01/25/18

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  |  Fruitilicious Farm  |  Watsonville, CA commented

We use cover crops, compost and bagged fertilizer on most of our trees, although some of the big older trees do not get all of this every year because their root systems are deep enough and the soil is built up enough. We do some foliar sprays and fertigation too, but mostly with seaweed and fish and micro-nutrients as needed. Although we hated to buy a manure spreader because we only use it once per year, we couldn't find one we could borrow or rent and with an orchard the commercial spreaders won't fit under the canopy, so we bit the bullet and bought one. It would be really great if regions with small growers could get together to share equipment like this.

01/28/18 11:08 AM

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Eric Brennan  |  USDA-ARS  |  Salinas, CA

Subject: New cover cropping videos and climate change paper

Hi Folks,

Below are YouTube links to my two newest, 8 minute cover cropping videos that I thought might interest you:
It was fun to present the first video last night at the CCOF Central Coast Chapter meeting in San Juan Bautista. It was followed by a good discussion.
In my presentation I highlighted 1) a recent review paper (Agron Sust Dev 37p4) on cover crops and climate change, and 2) my recent opinion paper (HortTech 27p151) that includes some alternative cover cropping approaches (i.e., juicing shoots for liquid fertilzer, etc.). The PDFs of the papers (see citations below) are attached for you to download and enjoy.
-Kaye J.P., M. Quemada. 2017. Using cover crops to mitigate and adapt to climate change. A review. Agron. Sustain. Dev. 37:4. Here's a link
... Read More

HortTech_27p151_1510103370.pdf
Agron_Sust_Dev_37p4_1510103396.pdf

In Topics Soil Fertility Management, Seed & Planting, Equipment

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Comment 0
11/07/17, updated
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Carin Fortin  |  Blossom's Farm  |  Santa Cruz, CA

Subject: Herb grinder for 17 acre herb farm

Hello,

does anybody have experience with cutting herbs for bulk sales? We are looking for a grinder that can shred/cut herbs, shrubs, barks. So far the only devices we found were Chinese Medicinal Herb grinders online - not sure if they work and worry about service.

I am thankful for feedback, advice and links.

Carin Fortin

Blossom's Biodynamic Herb Farm

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Comments 5
06/29/17

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  |  Blossom's Farm  |  Santa Cruz, CA commented

Thank you, Lin, Heidi, Ken and Harley for feedback, inks and connections - and apologies for the slow response, I just saw your posts. Thanks again! Carin

07/09/17 7:11 PM

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Amigo Bob Cantisano  |  Organic Ag Advisors  |  No. San Juan, CA

Subject: Comparing Dosatron adn Dosmatic Fertilizer Injectors

I have worked on many farms with either Dosatron or Dosmatic liquid fertiligation injectors. They seem pretty similar, yet different. We are going to buy one for the Felix Gillet Institute heirloom fruit and nut tree nursery project. Looking for opinions/experiences with either or both brands. What are the upsides and downsides? Which would you buy? This is a relatively small system, injecting 2-10 gallons per acre per week or two, injected into drip tape. Thanks for any thoughts!

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Comments 2
05/08/17

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  |  FarmsReach  |  Berkeley, CA commented

Talked with a sales rep of both to get the scoop! Summary:

  • It’s kind of a Ford vs Chevy situation.
  • Both very good quality.
  • Can’t say one is preferred over the other. No substantial upsides or downsides to either.
  • For smaller-side flow rates, DM11F & D25R Dosatron models are very good units. (DM11F - max flow rate of 11 gal water/minute.)
  • For Dosmatics will probably fall in the mini-dose category, max flow rate 7-12 gal/minute if using drip. Simply match whatever % pump you need as far as ratio you’re injecting to figure out the right model.
  • Neither has more problems than the other, although Dosatrons may be a little bit easier to work on should you have trouble down the road.
  • Both Dosatrons and Dosmatics are popular, but more people buy Dosatrons for whatever reason.
  • Price-wise, very similar.
05/12/17 11:43 AM, updated

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Jeff Russell  |  Tunitas Creek Ranch  |  Half Moon Bay, CA

Subject: Lettuce Dryer/Commercial Salad Spinner

I'm looking to purchase a commercial 20 gallon lettuce dryer. Does anyone have any suggestions. I've been looking at Hobart Models.

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Comment 0
02/22/17
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Justin King  |  Capay Apiary Products  |  Orland, CA

Subject: Attention ALMOND growers

1x1x4' tree stakes $.45 apiece.

do you have leaning trees or DON'T want leaning trees then these are the stakes for you.

minimum order 20,000

In Topics Seed & Planting, Trees, Vines & Planting, Marketing & Sales, Equipment, Beginning Farmers & Ranchers, Women in Agriculture

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Comment 0
01/30/17
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Lalitha Vish  |  Jellicles Farm  |  Sunol , CA

Subject: Subsoiler vs rototiller, newbie question

i went and saw some tractor attachments today. I have a kuboto with rototiller attachment. When I saw the sub soiler attachment, I had to wonder about the whole point of a rototiller? Is a subsoiler only for compacted soil? is it damaging to the soil layers? How different is it from deep ripping? In the attached image, is it a 'v-blade' on the 3point hitch? Terribly embarassed, but total newbie here. would sub soiler be considered 'an essential' piece of equipment..is it inherently superior to roto-tilling...as much as 'tillage' is considered essential..as it were.

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Comments 15
01/29/15

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  |  Classic Organic Farm  |  Gaviota, CA commented

As stated by others, the object in the photo is not a subsoiler. It is used to make furrows. Subsoilers and rippers do not invert the soil. They just fracture the soil breaking up the lower layers (subsoil). Other tools are used to make a seedb such as discs, harrows, and/or rototillers, just to name a few.

01/14/17 11:38 AM

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