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Hype or true?
On the land in question, a boggy meadow subject to seasonal flooding and composed of deep peat with a thin layer of clay and silt on top, definitely true.
Its reasonably safe to say wheat was NEVER grown on this land before. Hay was cut at one time. If it was ever tilled there is no sign.
The plot is about 3km from the town of Westport. Wheat is not grown in this area, at least not in the last few decades. The soil is considered too poor, the climate too wet, for modern methods of tillage, and for the demands of modern markets.
Spring wheat was chosen: again an unusual step. Even where wheat is sown in the counties of the west, no one sows spring wheat. It has to be sown in late winter or early spring,when the ground is too wet for machinery.
However, much is possible when older methods are used.
The land was prepared by hand, the seed sown by hand, and the weeding, harvesting, threshing, and winnowing all done by hand too. Some grain has been hand-ground for bread-making (reports to follow).
The preparation work was carried out in February and March,the grain sown a week or so after Paddy's day on a single raised ridge.
It was not an exceptional year for grain: the farmers in Ireland are saying its been damn poor. But they always say that.
In the UK, where spring wheat is grown organically on a large scale, the counties with the highest yields might average 8 tonnes per hectare,the worst around 2 tonnes.
The grain was harvested during two short spells on the 13th and 15th Sept. The patch was only 40.5 m2, slightly over a two hundred and fiftieth of a hectare.
The yield (milling-dry weight) was 32.5kg. Extrapolated that would be just over 8 tonnes per hectare. Lincolnshire watch out.
Luck? Quite possibly.
The residual fertility of land that is cultivated for the first time? Yes, that too.
And it got plenty of compost.
You wouldn't expect that yield every year, but there again, only half as much would be OK too.
Hand tillage. Can't beat it. No oil dependency, no technology, no soil compaction, no waiting for dry weather before venturing onto the land.
The soil texture actually improved between sowing and harvesting. Oats (spring oats, that is) to follow.
Way to go.
Anyone who wants to get involved in this project, please email me directly: email@example.com
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