Kids in Agronomy Plot Layout

It has been awhile since I have posted anything, what with the selling/consuming of all of my rabbits, and I have been busy with my doctoral written prelims.

So, I won a $10,000 reinvest in the American Society of Agronomy grant to create a research experiment run for kids (well, middle and high schoolers), and by kids. One of the experiments that we are going to study involves the influence of cover cropping on the following cash crop (corn, etc.).

Wheat in a winter cover crop

Wheat in a winter cover crop

For those of you not familiar with cover cropping, they aren’t usually consumed by humans (though, choosing GREAT species for rabbits), but are used to protect soil from erosion in the winter, add nutrients to the soil, cut down on weeds, and increase biodiversity for soil bacteria, wildlife, and other species.

There are several species that can be planted in North Carolina, both legumes (that capture atmospheric nitrogen and put it back into the soil), and non legumes (grasses, oats, radishes, etc.).

Austrian Winter Peas

Austrian Winter Peas

Hairy Vetch Legume

Hairy Vetch Legume

Crimson Clover Legume

Crimson Clover Legume

I haven’t quite decided what I want to plant yet, but I am looking at one legume, one non-legume, and a control.  I think I am leaning toward red or crimson clover, Austrian winter pea, or hairy vetch for the legume.  For the non-legume, I was looking at winter wheat or oats (both useful in bread making! yum!).

Oat, non legume cover crop

Oat, non legume cover crop

Winter wheat, non legume cover crop

Winter wheat, non legume cover crop

Our Site

Anyways, I went out to Durham Hub Farm this morning to flag out our nine plots (three plots, replicated three times). We are on the north side of the fenced in area. Each plot is 10′ x 14 ‘ in dimension, with 2 feet on the north and south border. They are smaller than we like, but these were the space contraints we had to stick to.

I can’t wait to get everything planted and ready for the agronomy program. Of course, I flagged out the plots with green flags, meaning that they aren’t visible in the photo, but this is our site anyways.

These are the flagged plots looking up to the barn.

These are the flagged plots looking up to the barn.

The soil is a Helena silt loam, and should hopefully be very amenable for growing crops, even if it is wetter than I would like. Still haven’t decided which cash crop, though, I am leaning toward sweet corn.

Helena Silt Loam soil

Helena Silt Loam soil

Rabbits

We are also getting some meat rabbits for breeding stock. I am leaning toward New Zealand Reds or Americans to start our breeding program with. This, of course, is once I get the cages built and cage brackets. They technically don’t belong on apartment acres anymore, but, it will still be my breeding program. Excited much?!?! Yea, me too.

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