Heirloom Tomato Trellising Trials A PFI Cooperators Study
Maintaining Companion Planting Techniques
While Mechanizing in Diverse, Small Farm Vegetable Operations
SARE Funded Research Genuine Faux Farm, Tripoli, Iowa
New Spacing Tractor
Old Spacing No Tractor
Trial row spacing that will allow a farm to mechanize and intercrop
vegetables without losing the benefits of selected companions.
Observations were taken to determine workability, intercrop benefit
levels and bottom line considerations such as yield and labor cost.
Increased diversity in crop environment
Reduction of disease spread
Diverse crops are their own form of
Why NOT Intercropping?
Planting times for one crop may not be
Difficult to scale up
Labor wins for between row cultivation, irrigation and bean harvest
Slight reduction for in row weeding labor costs
50% reduction in drip tape
Can increase number of rows planted for potatoes in same plot size and maintain beans
Hilling potatoes very difficult with companion bean so close
A cropping system that does not mulch beans or does not do double rows will result in an
increase in labor for mulch application.
Yield is sufficiently maintained for both crops
Colorado Potato Beetle control. In both plantings pest only observed on the edges of the
Mulching labor has similar difficulties
Potato harvest ease and labor similar
New Potato/Bean Spacing a Winner
Single Row Double Row
Would Colorado Potato Beetle control still be effective if each 40 bed were a single crop ?
Can a modified planting schedule address some of remaining problems.
Just a little rain
A little distraction
Wind roll of larger brassica onto
allium in both spacing
More issue with wind roll in
Brassica did equally well in each
Onions failed in tractor spacing
Issue: Planting Times Must Be Within
One Week in Tractor Bed
Possible Solution: Paper Mulch
Double row in non-tractor spacing
not worth seed spent on Provider
Double row in non-tractor well
worth it for Jade
Proximity to potatoes not an issue
for either bean
Labor for picking double row
Labor cost reduced by 18%, drip tape by 50% and yield maintained.
We will adopt new spacing for our entire bean/potato planting
We will continue to explore options to address additional issues.
Potato Harvest Comparison
One variety seems unaffected
Second may be impacted, but germination issue renders
Harvest on our farm waits until beans are done, so no
difference in picking labor
Potato digger stayed on track better in non-tractor
Easier to hill potatoes in non-tractor
Potato size similar in both spacings
Fewer row feet of drip tape in
Different root zones provides
opportunity to share drip line
Laying drip line effort similar for
both spacing options
Drip line sharing worked better
for beans/potatoes than
Results and Recommendations Brassicae/Allia:
If same companion set maintained, old spacing preferred to maintain onion crop.
A different companion, such as sage or summer thyme with brassica in tractor spacing
Establish onions sooner than larger brassica, or companion with smaller brassica
Labor cost similar, most of effort is in row weeding driven by number of allia, paper mulch may
serve to reduce cost better, but this results in a new spacing technique
Companion effect maintained in both spacings for brassicae.
Shared drip line may not be as effective in this intercrop set as potato/bean
Pest pressure very low in 2012 for both crops
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