My family farms around 2200 acres in the Sacramento River Delta region, and has been headquartered in our current location since the 1920's

For proof here's my Instagram of the same name ol__salty

Comments: 80 • Responses: 31  • Date: 

DownTrunk19 karma

Why are avocados so goddamn expensive?

ol__salty20 karma

I actually don't know any Avocado growers, but based on what I've read it has to do with typical supply and demand stuff. Everyone is in love with avocados, but it takes years to establish orchards into full production so it's hard to balance the supply with the demand. Apparently it was a bad growing season this year too, so supply is down even further.

ruebanstar18 karma

First off, thanks. Farming is a tough job.

A few questions for you-- what are your thoughts on the groundwater legislation in California? How do the changes to the groundwater supply impact your farming practices? What keeps you motivated to farm? What is the hardest part of your job?

ol__salty24 karma

Thank you! I'm actually in support of the sustainable groundwater management act. I know a lot of farmers around the state are very nervous about how this legislation could impact their operations, but the fact of the matter is that there are a lot of people in this state and we have been overdrawing our aquifers. And while the water is easy to take out, it's not so easy to put back in. So from my perspective, we either manage it with legislation like this or we risk using it up entirely and messing up large chunks of the industry, their surrounding communities, and our environment. There are parts of the legislation which don't make a lot of sense to me, like the fact that it blankets the whole state uniformly despite the fact that groundwater is not relied upon across the whole state. Where I live in the delta for example, the water table is often as close as five feet from the surface, and virtually all of our water is drawn from the Sacramento River, not from wells. It just seems like a waste to have to do all the reporting to manage a problem we don't have.

As far as motivation goes, it's easy. Farming really gets in your blood and it's hard to stop working some days. I love solving problems, and there's almost always a problem to solve, whether it's a broken down tractor, a need to design a new piece of equipment, having to calibrate fertilizer for a field, or trying to figure out what's eating your plants. I also love that I have a job that lets me hone so many different skills, like driving a tractor as straight as I can without using gps, working on my welds, or practicing my Spanish.

The best part of the job can also be the hardest part of the job sometimes: working outside. I love it most of the time, but there are some days when it's like 105F and you need to go clean out the combine, and it's in the sun, and it's hot and dusty and itchy and it just sucks. But even then it's still worth it.

Altahir4 karma

Have you given any thought about other jobs? and did you feel like you have to do this like it is a responsibility since it is kind of a legacy to you?

ol__salty14 karma

I really wanted to become a crop duster pilot as a kid, but I started to think more and more about coming back to the farm once I was in high school. No one ever pressured me into it, and my parents both cautioned me multiple times that I could make more money doing something else, and that coming back to the farm without truly wanting to be there would be worse for the business and myself than not coming back at all. But I had gone to work all the time with my dad as a kid so I knew what I was getting into, and I had also seen all the time and resources he sacrificed from his personal life into growing our farm. In a lot of ways farming truly is more of a lifestyle than just a job, and since I grew up in that environment and enjoyed it, it just felt right to continue along the same path.

grahag4 karma

Is your farm affected by the current administration's push against illegal immigrants? If so, how? If not, how do you work 2200 acres?

ol__salty13 karma

We haven't really been directly impacted yet. We did have one employee who had a green card, but who had had a DUI and it turned out never went to court for it, and I guess all the anti-immigrant rhetoric made him so nervous he chose to go back to Mexico on his own.

Your question is implying that our employees are all illegal though, and I want to stress how untrue that is. I can't deny that there are large numbers of illegal immigrants within the agricultural community, but there are also a lot of immigrants here legally, or who came illegally but have since gained citizenship.

grahag3 karma

I didn't mean to imply that.

I worked a 500 acre family potato farm for almost 2 years when I was 17 and we didn't see many immigrants, but I've been recently reading of harvests rotting in the fields and wondered if you were affected by it. With 2200 acres, I wasn't sure how much help you guys needed.

It certainly was the hardest work for the smallest amount of money I've ever done. Laying pipe and picking rock in the hot sun and mud gives you a perspective on what it takes to put food on tables.

ol__salty8 karma

Ah sorry I jumped to conclusions. I've been a little touchy lately regarding immigration.

So here's something I should have pointed out earlier, there are labor crews who get contracted to work individual jobs by a farm for higher value crops like a vineyard or orchard, or even fresh produce. We use a local labor contractor to prune our grapes each winter, and to thin grape clusters before harvest. We did have to wait awhile this year to get our clusters thinned because the labor crews are running short. Luckily we can harvest them mechanically so that shouldn't be a problem. I don't think most farms themselves would see as much of a shortage because their employees tend to be employed year round (or mostly year round) versus the more seasonal nature of working on a labor crew.

grahag1 karma

I appreciate the info. It's a good look into the differences between seasonal and year-round farming; exactly what these AMA's are for.

Another question; do you ever have moments where you feel this isn't something you wanted to do? If so, what would you have been interested in doing otherwise?

ol__salty3 karma

There are some years where it just sucks, like prices for everything are down and the weather is working against you and laws are being passed that make your job harder, all stuff out of your control, and those times make me question whether farming is really what I want to be doing. This year has been one of those years tbh, but so far my answer has always been in favor of farming.

If I ever couldn't keep farming for whatever reason, I'd probably try to finish up my pilots license and move to Alaska to be a bush/charter pilot.

John_ygg3 karma

How do you think automation will affect your industry in the future?

ol__salty10 karma

I'm torn on this because on the one hand, one of my favorite aspects of my job is the machinery I get to use and interact with. It still blows my mind that a satellite thousands of miles above the earth can drive a tractor pulling a chisel in a perfectly straight line and not disturb the drip tape buried in the field because it has sub-inch accuracy. On the other hand, I really like my coworkers and the path towards further automation is slowly closing the door on their jobs. Just like how self-checkouts are starting to make cashiers obsolete, pretty soon the role of the tractor driver will be largely obsolete. It's both fascinating and saddening.

There are a lot of raw manual labor jobs that stand to be eliminated by what I predict will be a new robotized labor force. Whether it's moving irrigation pipe or pruning grapevines, it is becoming increasingly apparent that jobs previously reserved out of a need for human dexterity are no longer safe from mechanization. It will be awesome that people don't have to do such repetitive, brain-numbing, back straining tasks anymore, but we need to be prepared to retrain a lot of people for new jobs when that time comes, and I say that regarding automation across all industries.

Gingerbeard_3 karma

I'd appreciate if you help me out. My father's dream is to be a farmer in his retirement, I hope to fulfill it.

My father's family farmed in our native country. His dad, an asshole, never gave him his rights to ancestral farmland.

Where do you buy seeds, fertilizers, etc. What's the cost of these per acre?

What's the cost of machinery? What machinery is needed?

Do you own 2200 acres? How did you accumulate so much? What's the profit per acre? What's the price of one of your acres?

How tough is the job? Day-to-day how does it look?

I'd appreciate if you could factor in economies of scale in your answers (answer from small and big farmer pov)

ol__salty8 karma

Wow, I'm sorry to hear that.

Ok so seed pricing is going to be dependent on a couple of factors, it'll vary depending on what it is you want to plant (longer term crops like alfalfa cost considerably more than an annual grass like wheat, as will row crops like tomatoes) and the variety also makes a difference (newer varieties are usually more robust and have greater inherent resistance to pests, but they cost more too). If you're planting anything more than half an acre, you'll likely be buying seed in bulk by the pound from a seed company. You may also be able to get transplants from a greenhouse depending on where you farm and what you're trying to grow, and while they give you the assurance of knowing everything has sprouted they will be even more expensive than seed. Fertilizer often comes through the assistance of a PCA, or a pest control advisor, who helps you determine which blend suits the needs of your crops best and who can order what you need from the fertilizer company they work for. Keep in mind that they may be incentivized to sell you more than you need. You can also use an independent PCA or do it on your own and just buy your fertilizer online. If you have any pest problems that aren't resolving themselves naturally, that's when having a good relationship with your PCA can really help because they can write you a pesticide recommendation (much like a doctors prescription) something you cannot do on your own unless you are a PCA yourself.

Machinery is generally expensive, no matter what it is. You can find affordable used equipment out there but be prepared to work on it frequently.

You're going to have roughly three categories of equipment you need: tractors, implements, and harvesters. Implement-wise, bare-bones you're going to need something to till your soil with (like a disc or a plough) and something to prepare a seedbed with like a float or a field cultivator, and maybe some ring rollers or a rolling harrow. If you're doing row crops you're going to need a lister that can throw up beds for you, and an incorporator to prepare a seed bed on the beds. Then you'll need a planter (there are several types depending on the crop you intend to plant) or a transplanting sled. Once you get planted you'll need a way to irrigate your crops, so you'll need sprinkler pipe or siphons and a V-ditcher to flood irrigate or with beds you may have already laid drip tape before planting. Generally speaking, the harvesters are gonna be the most complex machinery you have, and they're also the most expensive.

These costs, combined with the costs of purchasing your own land (which is currently around $18,000/acre in my area and usually sold in 40-80 acre parcels) make it very difficult for most people to start a new farm. If you can manage to buy your own land, you can usually make an arrangement with another farmer in the area to custom farm some or all aspects of the crop cycle for you. This allows you to invest in the equipment you need over time so you don't have to buy it all at once to start farming, and it's a fairly common arrangement. We farm 2200 acres, but we only own about half of that. The rest is ground we custom farm for other landlords (most of whom have no interest in farming it themselves).

Profit per acre depends on your yields (which are subject to the weather, and how good a farmer you are ; ) ) and the price (usually per ton in the US). Many agricultural products are bought and sold as global commodities, which means you have to compete with the rest of the world in order to sell your crop. Another important distinction is the one between gross profit and net profit. I've seen headlines the past few years about farmers having record profits, which is true from a gross perspective. But input costs like labor and fertilizers and seed are at record highs too, which quickly turns a record gross profit into an average or even a marginal net profit.

It's hard work, but it's incredibly rewarding to see a crop through to harvest. On the other hand, as much as I love it, it seems like too much work to be something I'd want to do in my retirement, especially if I had to start from scratch.

Wow, that got long hahah. I just realized I didn't really factor in economies of scale like you asked but they do exist.

Mudgeon1 karma

Are there particular tropes of fiction about "life on the farm" that you find particularly irritating or accurate?

ol__salty1 karma

Hahah well... idk I guess there's kindof a trope about farmers being honest hardworking people, and I'd say that's mostly true. Like if I was lost somewhere and a farmer offered to help me I'd trust them more than some random person.

Ask me about some farming tropes you know and I'll see if they jive with my experiences!

hayden9922 karma

What does a typical day look like for you? Also what is the biggest challenge you've found in being the 5th generation?

ol__salty7 karma

It's really hard to say cause they're all so different, but probably something along the lines of heading out the door in the morning and doing a quick drive around to make sure nothing is out of the ordinary/to check on tractor progress from the day before. Usually around this time I'm touching base with my dad on the phone to make sure we each know what's coming up that day. After that, some days I head to our shop to work on whatever the current project is, whether it's updating our irrigation pumps, changing the wheel bearings in a tractor, fixing a blown hydraulic line, etc... sometimes these projects require a trip into town to get parts so I'll try to plan my lunch around that. Other days I'm moving and calibrating fertilizer tanks, running a tractor or a harvester if we're a little shorthanded, or out walking fields to check for pests or nutrient deficiencies or irrigation problems.

I've been really lucky in that my family, especially my dad, is really easy to get along with and to work with. He's willing to let me try new ideas and forgiving when I make mistakes. I think the hardest part for me has just been making sure that I legitimately deserve my job based on the contributions I make and not just because I'm family. I started out moving sprinkler pipe with our irrigation crews in middle school, and worked up to being a tractor driver and ultimately now to more of a manager in training, but we have guys who have been driving a tractor or irrigating their whole lives who have decades more experience than me. I will say I feel a lot better about it now that I have at least a few full years under my belt.

flojo-mojo2 karma

What makes farming interesting? What are the boring parts? How do you feel about city life?

ol__salty10 karma

I almost never do the same thing two days in a row. There are some exceptions, like if I'm harvesting a crop, but normally there's so much variability that it's never boring. It can get kinda slow in the wintertime when it's wet and rainy, and you're stuck in the shop fixing equipment, but even then it's usually challenging enough to be interesting.

I love visiting friends who lead city lives, and I think I tend to romanticize it a bit, but ultimately I know I wouldn't want to live in a city.

flojo-mojo1 karma

That's really interesting to hear..cool to know there is so much variability in what you're doing. And I suppose if you guys own the farm there are the issues of selling the crops and the business side too.

How big is your farm? Do you interact with people throughout the day or can you complete most of your tasks alone.

ol__salty6 karma

Yes, there is a lot that goes into the business side of the farm. My dad spends almost half of his time doing paperwork in the office. California has been on a roll lately with a constant stream of new laws that impact agriculture so there's been a lot to stay on top of. Trying to plan ahead for big changes in the minimum wage, the loss of our ten hour work day, new groundwater monitoring laws, having to file nitrogen budgets with the state, registering our stationary ditch pump engines with the air resources board, making sure our employees get the proper safety trainings and often taking training classes on how to train them, reporting our pesticide use, etc... the list goes on and on. It's all important stuff but it also adds up to a lot of time spent not farming.

So we farm 2200 acres, and we're somewhat unique for this area in that virtually all of it is contiguous. I'm not sure how to help you visualize what the scale of 2200 acres looks like, but for this area that's essentially a mid size farm. My cousins farm around us and they're dealing with closer to 6000 acres, but they're relatively spread out so they spend a lot of time on the road.

I usually interact a few times a day with our irrigation foremen or a tractor driver or two if they need help or something breaks, but for the most part I'm on my own.

likesoctopus2 karma

What kinds of technology do you use to help you farm? Do you use any software to help manage your operation?

ol__salty4 karma

We use AgStar for accounting purposes, and I also have pages and pages of notes in my phone and handwritten notes. I'm just beginning to explore the possibilities of using arduinos to automate some day to day processes. I spent some time this winter coding and building a digital timer for our rain machines that will also automatically run fertilizer during our irrigation sets. The obvious one is gps, and we currently only use it on our swather to cut alfalfa. We're moving towards using it more but it's expensive!

palbuddy12342 karma

What do you wish that us suburban or city-folk knew about farming in America? Your life is quite different as I just buy stuff at the store.

ol__salty7 karma

I think it's important to point out not to be afraid of farming corporations. A lot of modern American farms are incorporated but are still family owned and operated. Our farm is incorporated largely in order to protect my dad's and my grandpa's (and one day my own) personal assets like their homes in case the farm ever goes bankrupt, but we aren't some huge multinational conglomerate.

I think it's also important to try to understand the food system that feeds you, and I've been surprised over the past few years to hear how guilty people feel about not knowing more about it. That's partly why I wanted to do this AMA, to help bridge the gap consumers have with their food providers.

palbuddy12341 karma

Thanks for responding. I've done a lot of work overseas and it amazes me how efficient American farming is. So little of the American population are farmers, yet we produce so many diverse crops that show up in my local grocery store. A modern miracle of logistics and ingenuity. Another question, it seems that so much of your capital is tied up with banks, and various credit agencies. Do you feel tied to the 'system' (lack of a better word'? or since it seems you've done it for generations are you fairly self-reliant at this stage. Thanks again!.

ol__salty1 karma

It really varies from year to year how reliant we are on our banker. The past few years we have been making extensive use of our operating line, which is to say they really helped us get by in between harvest incomes. For a few years prior to that however we were doing well enough that we only opened an operating line to maintain a relationship with our banker, not because we needed one. So our dependence varies over time, and ideally yeah it would be awesome to be able to bankroll your farm all the time but it doesn't work out that way for most farmers unless you're already independently wealthy.

RolliPolliMolliKolli1 karma

Where do you and your family get your groceries? Basically, where do you get produce and other food that you don't grow yourselves?

Are you inclined to buy brands that use the crops you grow?

ol__salty2 karma

We get most of our groceries from the local grocery store, but it's not uncommon to get food from neighboring farms too depending on what's in season. A lot of time farmers will share food that is unfit for the grocery store but still perfectly safe to eat (like if it's the wrong size or is bruised or sunburnt, etc...). It's also not uncommon to get some food out of trades, like we get honey from beekeepers who need a place to put their bees in their off season, and vegetables from a from an organic farm we do some tractor work for.

Yes! We absolutely support brands that use the products we grow! I'll bet almost every farmer does hahah. I always grew up with saffola margarine in our house cause it uses the vegetable oil from the safflower we grow. We even buy certain brands for crops that we don't even grow anymore like processing tomatoes & sugarbeets.

KO782KO1 karma

What kind of crops do you grow? and how has the movement to growing mass amounts of corn/wheat affected things?

ol__salty2 karma

We grow alfalfa, barley, wheat, triticale, safflower, dichondra, wine grapes, and hybrid onions for seed!

Because corn is so widespread now it is one of the driving factors that determines the price of all other commodities it is considered an alternative to, mostly in the context of livestock feed. So the cheaper corn gets, the cheaper alternative feeds like wheat, triticale, or even alfalfa have to get in order to remain competitive alternatives. These aren't true alternatives, because you can't just completely substitute a diet of alfalfa for a diet of corn, but we're gonna need an IAmA from a rancher to better explain that one.

Thumb_Wiggler1 karma

Are you hiring? if so, how much would you pay

ol__salty2 karma

We are usually hiring irrigators but it's getting pretty late in the season to start now. We pay minimum wage for irrigating but there are some pretty awesome benefits that come along with the job like your own house, or at least a housing stipend and free gas to commute if our houses are all full, and health insurance (we're small enough that we aren't required to provide health insurance but we do it anyway).

Plus you get a rad farmers tan hahah.

Thumb_Wiggler1 karma

That's awesome! Any requirements for these kinds of jobs? Also how does someone get these kinds of jobs? Im thinking you don't see these help wanted jobs in craigslist

ol__salty2 karma

Not really, but its a lot easier if you're already in pretty good shape but that's about it. If you want to drive tractors you need a drivers license for when you move the tractors down the road, and it's helpful if you're familiar with how to maneuver large machinery and/or trailers.

Most jobs are filled by word of mouth through friends or family. Football players from the local high school will often work here over the summer because they figured out that they could basically get paid to work out all day moving rain pipe instead of having to pay to work out somewhere else or being stuck inside the weight room at the high school.

hijack6091 karma

What do you do on your free time, any videogames?

ol__salty3 karma

I'm in a hard rock band hahah, somewhere in between Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath, with some desert rock influences. I play bass. Our guitar player is leaving this winter though so I'm looking to start a new project with me on guitar. Leaning towards surf rock in the same vein as Wavves.

I don't play many video games anymore but I do have an old favorite that I play from time to time on my computer, Command & Conquer Generals.

BrindleCane1 karma

I live in Sacramento. Can I visit your farm?

ol__salty4 karma

Absolutely! If you think you'll have some free time send me a message and I'll try to work something out with you!

modernsuccess1 karma

How would you suggest getting into farming?

ol__salty2 karma

Try to find a family farm that doesn't have any younger generations who are interested in coming back and convince them to take you on as a protégée. That way you can build up the skills and relationships you need to run a farm and have the benefit of taking on an existing business rather than having to start from scratch.

ArcticBlueCZ1 karma

I've heard, that if a farmer is buying a new tractor it's most likely gonna be the same brand as tractor owned by his father and grandfather. Is that true? Is farming family loyal to one brand for generations, or you'll pick new farming equipment based on price or parameters?

ol__salty1 karma

There is definitely some truth to this. A lot of farms favor certain brands of equipment over others. Sometimes that looks like having all one brand of tractor, or in other cases it means having a variety but excluding one brand in particular. It makes a certain amount of sense to standardize to one brand because you're more likely to be able to stock parts that will work on multiple machines. On the other hand, certain brands are known for different niches things and it may be worthwhile to have a variation to best fit the different needs of your farm. A lot of it also depends on which dealerships service your area and how easy it is to get parts. I love Gleaner combines for example, but there's no longer a dealership who houses parts close enough for us to justify buying another one. As far as tractors go, I'm partial to Caterpillar (now produced by AGCO) equipment myself because they were founded in the Delta here. I like Case IH stuff too, and New Holland, but I'm not as big a fan of John Deere.

LeRoienJaune1 karma

Are you working on getting any of your fields certified as organic?

Who do you sell your wine grapes to?

SBV son of a farmer here (60 acres). We mostly lease sub-contract our land out, ever since the days of UFW. Celery seed and beans for this season.

ol__salty1 karma

We have custom farmed organic fields before but have never certified any of our own, and we currently don't have plans to. I'm not against growing organically but we currently aren't set up to farm that way.

Our grapes are contracted to Gallo.

Are you guys organic?

X0AN1 karma

Do you know why your family got into farming? What were they doing that they quit to start farming?

ol__salty1 karma

I'm not sure what pushed them to start farming here initially. During the Gold Rush my family came out from the east coast and became partners in a mercantile store in what is now Old Sacramento. By the end of the 1800's my great great grandfather had started farming in south Sacramento. His three sons all wound up starting their own separate farms in the Delta area, which all still exist today. The original farm was bought and developed into a Campbells Soup cannery, which closed just a few years ago.

viborg1 karma

Are you looking into marijuana cultivation yet? If not why not?

ol__salty8 karma

Hahah my dad and I have discussed it, but we aren't seriously looking into it for several reasons. For one, my great grandmother (who was married to the great grandfather who started our farm) was a teatotaler and even though she passed away more than ten years ago (and we've already planted wine grapes) for some reason the act of growing weed is just a step too far in respect to her memory. Perhaps more importantly, we rely on an operating loan from our banker to carry our operation in between harvest incomes, and in order to remain federally insured they cannot do business with anyone who is breaking federal law. It's not worth risking the rest of our farm over until it's federally legal basically.

todayIact1 karma

  1. What do you farm?
  2. Tell us some trade secrets?
  3. What do you think about GMO?
  4. How do you enrich your soil?
  5. They say American vegetables and fruit have lost 40% of their nutritious value in the last 4 decades. Your thoughts.

ol__salty1 karma

We grow alfalfa, wheat, barley, triticale, safflower, dichondra, hybrid onion seed, and wine grapes.

One of the best trade secrets I know isn't as much a secret as it is a saying: The best fertilizer is a farmers' shadow. It's true, the more time you spend in your fields the better they'll grow because you notice problems right away.

I have no problem with the science behind GMO's. I think it's an awesome and logical next step for our industry to embrace as we begin to understand genomes a lot better. Technically, nearly every plant humans cultivate is a genetically modified organism because we have selected them for specific traits over time. The difference is that now we can splice genes in from totally different species rather than working with what the plants' genome already had. This is a big leap to take, and I think we may be a little hasty jumping right in to mass producing crops with cross-specie DNA without fully understanding how the genomes of various plants work and interact with the environment and our own bodies. I worry that the GMO's currently on the market haven't been tested well enough or long enough to give us a clear understanding of how they interact with the real world.

We enrich our soil by tilling in stubble and chaff and other organic material left behind after harvests, and occasionally we try to amend our soil filth by spreading some gypsum. We also don't plough unless we really have to. Soil has layers or strata that work together best when they're disturbed the least, so the less flipping and churning we can do the better usually.

I'm not sure where you heard that data, but I doubt that it's true. Yields have certainly grown during that span of time, so it's possible that the nutrients are still there but have become more diluted as plants produce more, but I doubt it amounts to anywhere near 40%.

Ron_Jeremy1 karma

My wife works in ag out here on the coast and I'm blown away by the logistics that go into it and also how vertically integrated it is. Many of the farmers out here buy seedlings from a single source then sell back finished product to that single source.

Is the Central Valley similar? Do you have control over who you sell to? Is there an actual like market? Or has it already been sold as futures before the plants become mature?

ol__salty2 karma

Good eye, yeah it is an increasingly vertically integrated industry. The closest we've really run into that so far is dealing with chemical companies like Dow and Monsanto who have vertically integrated seed companies into their business. I think vertical integration is a smart idea in a lot of ways, but the way those companies in particular treat seeds as intellectual property makes me really uncomfortable.

Along the coast I would guess most of what you see are vegetable crops sold as fresh market produce, and it doesn't surprise me that that sector of the industry is more heavily vertically integrated than the rest because of the efficiency and speed required to get extremely perishable crops like that from the field to the grocery store. In most commodity crops you have a choice of who you sell to. Grain is sold to grain silo companies usually, alfalfa to a hay broker, processing tomatoes to a cannery, sugar beets to a sugar refinery, and pears to a packing shed. Each crop has a slightly different path through the market depending on what it's going to be used for. Commodity crops can also be sold as futures before they've been harvested or even planted, and we typically sell a little less than half of our grain this way. Awesome question!

esquemo1 karma

What are your primary crops? What is your rotation schedule? Are you using drones to increase your yield, and how successful has that been? (Also, thanks for farming...We all need to eat).

ol__salty1 karma

We grow alfalfa, wheat, barley, triticale, safflower, dichondra, hybrid onion seed, and wine grapes. Our typical rotation is between alfalfa, safflower, and a grass like wheat or barley or triticale. It's nice following 4 years of alfalfa up with something that really likes nitrogen like a grass because alfalfa fixes its own nitrogen in the rooting zone and it's still available to whatever you plant after it. It's like bonus fertilizer. The safflower likes it too but it grows like a weed anyway as long as it's taproot can follow moisture. We treat dichondra the same as the alfalfa because the stand will last for about the same amount of time (4-5 years), although it doesn't have the same nitrogen benefits. The grapes are more of a long term crop separate from our normal rotation, and the onions are just kind of random. They're only in little plots and they never take up enough of a field to try to rotate them seperately. We DO have to rotate carefully where we place the onion blocks though because of residual pest problems and balancing isolation distances between other onion seed producers.

We don't use drones....yet. I want to though.

thenarrrowpath1 karma

Do you receive government subsidies regardless of whether or not your crop is successful? If so, how much do you get a year?

ol__salty1 karma

We actually stopped filing for subsidies because we decided the amount of paperwork wasn't worth the returns. We were only ever eligible for wheat subsidies anyway, and we don't grow that many acres of wheat, and we didn't even have any this year. But yes, from what I understand you can still collect a subsidy if you've experienced a crop failure. Thats partly why subsidies exist, to help incentivize the continuation of farms through hard times. However, there's definitely a flaw in the system because I've heard of people collecting subsidies for ground that hasn't even been farmed at all for multiple years.

beebish0 karma

How much pot do you grow?

ol__salty1 karma

0%