Monday, June 8, 2009

Dry-Farmed Grains: Field Peas

Two years ago, with growing herd of hogs and flock of layers (see the Coop Scoop at, Tim Mueller & Trini Campbell wanted to grow organic, dry-farmed grains to supplement animal feed. So late that fall, in our first year of raising hogs, we seeded 15 acres of barley and field peas. Minimal input and work went into growing the field crops. We tilled the ground and added compost to condition the soil for seeding. Nothing more: no fertilizer, no irrigation.

We didn't get much rain that winter and spring, but the trial did yield a modest 20 tons of grain. Also, the experience encouraged us to grow more of our own dry-farmed grains for our animals and boosted our hopes for a better harvest the following year.  

Last fall, we doubled the seeded acreage and added tritical to the list of field crops, but we didn't change the low input methods of growing our grains. Simply till, compost, and seed - no fertilizer, no irrigation.

Lessons from the trial and milder weather during spring produced denser stands of grains. We're getting better tonnage per acre than last year's harvest, and we're hopeful that this year's harvest yields a third of the grain feed for our hogs.

The top photo is the field in late February, the next two in mid-April, and the bottom three are photos of pea pods on harvest date, May 29, 2009.