Preparing the Field for Planting

After the farmer has harvested his crop – either soybeans or corn – we begin to prepare the field for planting.

If the harvested crop was soybeans, we don’t have to do any further preparations. The farmer sprays the field with herbicide several times during the summer, so it’s usually fairly clear of weeds.

This is a field just after the farmer has harvested his beans.

If the crop was corn, harvesting it for grain leaves lots of stubble behind.

Here’s a close up of the ground – with lots of stalks and pieces of corn.

It takes a few years for all that to plant matter to decay, and in the meantime it makes a layer of duff that would prevent the prairie seeds from being able to get in good contact with the soil.

So in years when our farmer is planting corn, we hold out the field for the next year’s prairie planting and let it sit unplanted for a year. We mow it every few weeks all summer to keep down the annual weeds, and then spray it with Roundup in the fall to get rid of any perennial weeds.

This is Mike keeping the weeds mowed on a section of Western Field that hasn’t been planted.

After we spray the field in the fall, it’s quite clear of weeds except for Foxtail Grass (Setaria sp.), which goes to seed even when it’s been mowed numerous times. The Foxtail doesn’t seem to be a long term problem – it gradually disappears as the prairie plants grow.