Potato and rye: crop rotation
How to collect a decent crop of potatoes and at the same time not to deplete the soil? I have found a way. It is simple and economical. And most importantly, it will come in handy everywhere: both where the groundwater is close located, and where it lies deep; in arid areas and in places where it rains for weeks; on sandy and clay soils.
Let's start in the spring, although a significant part of the work I do in the fall. In the first days of May, I prepare a walk-behind tractor for planting potatoes: I attach a box to the handles on a bucket and a half of sprouted tubers, so that it is convenient to take them. On the other hand, I strengthen the counterweight -10-15 kg. I loosen a bed with a mill and at the same time spread the potatoes into the furrows. The result is a loosened strip, and in the middle there are two furrows at a distance of 40 cm. In them, in a checkerboard pattern, I spread the tubers sprouts up one after another after 35 cm.
So, after one pass, there are two furrows with sprouted tubers. I fill the furrows with water from the hose. Then I pick up a chopper and fill the potatoes with loosened soil, raking a ridge 20-25 cm high above each row, that is, I combine planting with the first hilling. This delays the emergence of seedlings for 7-10 days, and they will not fall under return frosts.
Similarly, a meter from the first I lay the second, third and subsequent ridges. Speaking of watering. Next year I’ll try to water not with mullein infusion, but with water. During irrigation of furrows and filling them with earth, the walk-behind tractor does not work (the motor cools down).
But it is possible in another way: to walk all the beds with a walk-behind tractor, lay out the tubers, and then, after removing the walk-behind tractor, water the furrows and cover them with earth.
When the tops reach a height of 15-18 cm, weed ridges and immediately restore broken ridges. Before hilling, be sure to feed the potatoes once with mullein (1:10) and add 10 g of nitrophoska and a glass of ash to 10 liters of water. I make an infusion of grass: I throw the ground mass mowed by a lawn mower into a special pool and fill it with water. In a week, two dressings are ready. If there was no rain, then simultaneously with top dressing, I water the groove between the ridges.
I restore the ridges after watering and top dressing and immediately carry out the second hilling (the first - when planting), while pouring dry areas on dry ground. So the crust does not form, and the moisture evaporates less. The second hilling coincides with the time when the tops in the ranks close. But (and this is the second "hit" of my technology) previously using the cutter of the walk-behind tractor, I smell the rye sown in the fall in meter aisles. Together with rye, weeds growing in the aisles are also smelled. So I also weed through two-thirds of the site with a walk-behind tractor.
After hilling, the ridges and the groove between them become 5-7 cm higher, but the overall profile of the ridge does not change.
© Forest & Kim Starr
Hilling procedure: the rows are paired, so first I go to the right of the tape and spud the nearest row, then in the opposite direction and the second row is ready.
In order not to injure the tops with a walk-behind tractor, I attached a strip of tin to its “side” before hilling. She picks up the tops, which leaned into the aisle, and supports the plant in an upright position while the hilling is in progress. The tin strip and wide passages between the ridges allow you to work as a hiller at any time.
In a dry summer, I water the grooves 3-4 times, and certainly blooming potatoes. In this case, loosening is not necessary, since the crust is formed only in the groove between the rows. It happens that after irrigation tubers are exposed, then I immediately start a walk-behind tractor and spud.
In rainy summers, the main concern is top dressing and cultivation. To do this, I attach a hiller, I just adjust it so that it does not burrow more than 10 cm into the ground.
© Forest & Kim Starr
In wet weather, the planting scheme greatly simplifies feeding. Since we put everything in rows, I take only a third of the usual rate of dry fertilizer. Fertilizers pour in the groove between the ridges, another 15-20 cm to the plants, this is enough not to burn them. After rain, fertilizers easily penetrate the roots.
At the end of August - the beginning of September, having chosen fine days, mowing and removing tops from the field, I dig potatoes, securing a potato digger to the walk-behind tractor. I collect tubers by hand, at the same time I lay them on the seeds: from ten nests, a dozen tubers. I potato seed potatoes for 15-20 days in the shade of trees (in diffused light).
Immediately after cleaning, again with a walk-behind tractor, loosen the aisles and sow their rye again. Before the frosts hit the ridges where the potatoes grew, I applied organic fertilizers - a bucket per square meter or per one hundred square meters of 270-300 kg, which is equivalent to 800-900 kg per one hundred square meters when spreading fertilizer throughout the entire area. Before the frosts of the bed, on which fertilizer is applied, I plow the milling unit of the walk-behind tractor. Now the site is ready for spring, the cycle is completed.
© Ruslan V. Albitsky
And so for three years. At the end of the third after harvesting potatoes, I immediately outline ridges in the middle of the aisles where rye has been growing all this time. The newly formed passages on which the potatoes grew, loosen with a mill and sow rye.
Thus, in one place, potatoes grow for three years, and then “change apartments” with rye. I haven’t decided what is more effective: swap potatoes and rye every year, in two or three years? But I think that any option is better than planting potatoes on potatoes for decades.
In the spring of 1998, he set up an experiment, planting part of the potato according to its technology, and part according to the generally accepted one. And what would you think? From the “experienced” acres I dug out 230-240 kg, or 2.5 times more than the old agricultural technology, and the worse the weather, the greater the difference in yield.
In the Urals, Altai, Kazakhstan, my technology was tested by friends and relatives and everywhere they collected at least 450 kg per hundred square meters.
Finally, I’ll say about the orientation of the ridges to the cardinal points: I think the direction does not matter much. And only if the site is located on a slope (and there are practically no even ones), then the ridges must be cut across the slope. Believe my experience, even with the slightest slope, this simple method helps to retain moisture in the soil.
Author: N. Surgutanov, Tula region