Follow us as we dig in the dirt, navigate the trials and tribulations of managing a farm business, and build a more sustainable future at Tenuta San Carlo.
This week we finished an important part of field prep for planting rice in a few months.
Growing rice organically means that we have to start preparing a future rice paddy as early as nine months before we plant.
In organic production, the biggest challenges have to do with weed control and building enough soil fertility to grow healthy crops. The use of herbicides that kill weeds and of synthetic fertilizers that provide nitrogen used in conventional are prohibited in organic production.
Cover Crops Do the Heavy Lifting
We depend on other methods that require more time and that rely more on natural cycles.
We use plants to grow other plants. Also known as cover crops, these plants that “help” grow our main crops are planted before a main crop, such as rice.
Cover crops add nutrients to the soil as they grow, and then add nutrients when they decompose.
They also compete with weeds, making it harder for the weeds to grow and propagate.
Back to Planting Rice
Late last summer, we planted a type of fava bean as a cover crop.
The crop grew throughout the fall and winter, and this week we ended the cover crop it by disking it into the soil.
The crop will decompose, provide nutrients to the soil, and help us grow our rice organically this year.
In about a month, once the cover crop has decomposed, we will start the more delicate phase of field preparation for planting.