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Planning is critical to any business, particularly for diversified farm operations.  We all know that weather and temperatures dictate what can get done in the field, but a good plan will allow you to made adjustments as needed.   Planning is a cyclical process, and by comparing what actually happens back to your plan you are able to make adjustments to improve for next year.  Crop plans and rotations are as old as farming, and important to any farm operation.

Crop planning should allow you to have an idea of what need to get prepared, seeded or transplanted to meet the needs of your marketing plan.  Crop rotations, planned orders of specific crops or crop families, reduce impact of pests, pathogens and weeds.  Including cover crops in a farm rotation can add significant fertility to the soil, build soil organic matter, attract beneficial insects and  reduce weed pressure.

It’s hard to develop a crop plan for your farm without a proper map.  At no cost, the Natural Resource Conservation Service will provide you with an aerial digital map of your farm and digitally outline your fields.  Find your local NRCS office here.

Tools

  • Seed Calculator and Average Yield Per Crop from Johnny’s Seeds
  • Field Planning Spreadsheet  & Rotation Plan Example: These tools were developed by Daniel Parson of the Oxford College Farm while he was Manager of Gaia Gardens.  They were used to plan the crops marketed through a 67 member, 30 week CSA and a weekly farmers market.  The farm was organized into 12 fields of 5,000 square feet each.
  • AgSquared: Online farm management software that helps you stay on top of your season plan and keep organized, effective records that help you make informed decisions with each passing year.
  • Free Crop Planning Software: Developed with Support from Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association and NE Southern Agriculture Research & Education.
  • Georgia Automated Environmental Monitoring Network: Find historical weather data of all kinds from stations all over the state.  Also includes chill hours calculator, soil temperatures and a rain fall calculator.

Articles & Papers

Books