Growing certified organic wheat on El Sagrado Farm
Growing anything at 7800 elevation in The San Luis Valley in South-Central Colorado can be challenging. In the spring, our window to get the fields prepared and the crop planted and irrigated is always tight. Also it’s critical, when farming growing organically, to get the planting and irrigation done as soon as the field is ready so as to give the crop a head-start over the weeds. If the weeds get the upper hand in the beginning, it never goes well. This spring we had rain. The field had been disced and was ready to be smoothed and flattened using a land plane, and then it rained. If I was to use the land plane when the earth was wet it would compact the soil, eliminating the air and turning our rich clay soil into almost adobe brick consistency. Air is crucial in the soil for the healthy growth of the whole soil food web (bacteria, protozoa, fungi, earthworms, voles, and countless other microorganisms) So I harnessed the team of horses (Buck, Lilly and Alexander) and we pulled a much lighter 16 foot wide spiked tooth harrow to flatten the field.
Then they pulled the old grain planter filled with wheat seed (grown the previous year on our farm and saved over winter). As I was planting with the horses, Renay, our employee, was spraying biodynamic preparation 500 on the field ahead of me in her bare feet. In the end I switched over to the tractor as I was running out of time.
Once the grain was planted, I made parallel dikes every 32 feet across the field and we were ready to flood irrigate the field. Flood irrigating is hard work.
Once the ditch is full, you have to fill eight foot long siphon tubes 6 inches in diameter by submersing them in the ditch and then twist the rubber inner tubing on one end shut and then pull that end of the tube out of the ditch and down onto the field so the water siphons out creating a sheet of water that then travels down the graded field 800 feet to the end soaking the field
We had a bumper crop of grain - 30,000 pounds from our 13 acre field. Below are pictures and video of the harvest.
The horses pull the loaded grain wagon to the farmyard
The wheat is unloaded and an auger delivers the grain into the granary where it is safely stored.