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Soil Preparation at Howell Farm (Mercer County Park Commission, NJ, USA)

As soon as the weather conditions permitted, tillage work began on the potato field at our grower Howell Farm (Mercer County Park Commission, NJ, USA) on April 18.

First furrows are being done at the potato field on April 18 (Photo: K. Pogue)

Syracuse 401 plow used for the tillage (Photo: K. Pogue)

The field, about half an acre in size, consists of relatively heavy clay soil and was plowed with a Syracuse 401 plow. The horses used for plowing (Jack and John) are two Belgian Draft Horses, aged 12 and 13 years. The field is divided in two by an integrated conservation strip* and was formerly cultivated with clover as well as corn.

Conservation strip in the middle of the potato field (Photo: K. Pogue)

Copyright: Howell Farm (Mercer County Park Commission)

After plowing was done, the field was first disked with a tractor and then harrowed again by the horses. The harrow used was a circa 1930, 5' spring tooth harrow with two, 2 1/2 ' sections. Sections were suitable for use with one horse, and 2 or more sections could be attached together for making wider passes...if one had the horsepower.

Farmer Larry Kidder harrowing with a 2-section spring tooth harrow (Picture from the Photo Archive of Howell Farm)

A report on the planting of the potatoes will follow soon!

*A conservation strip is a piece of land that usually cuts into a field and is not plowed. It helps to prevent water runoff and erosion of the field


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