Thanks for taking notice of our kickstarter. We have heard of Masanobu Fukuoka but he lived in a totally different growing region then we did. The first big different is growing zones. He was in zone 10? We are in zone 5. So double cropping is out. We are experimenting with a cold tolerant covercrop winter rye to tie up any extra nitrogen as well as build OM. We also are resting some paddies during the year that will have a cover crop that we will graze during the summer. But the big difference that going to zone 5 makes is temperature. We are planting out rice in mid may and rice does not stand up to frost very well. The water creates a warm microclimate that protects the rice from the cold. Then as the summer goes on our cool nights can cause the rice seed to be sterile and not ripen correctly. So by keeping water in the paddies we are able to maintain a higher temperature to insure the proper seed growth. In places like India there is a system of rice production that is called SRI and that does use the no standing water technique but leads to much more cultivation. We tried it in one of our paddies and the cool weather + funky PH led to not much growth.
Because the other thing that flooding does is move the PH to neutral making more nutrients available. We have pretty acidic soil and it is interesting watching the PH change as the water is added.
http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/840980225/growing-rice-in-vermont In this first video you can see what we did with our first small test plot and would like to be doing in all our paddies. We try to replace the nitrogen fixation and weed control of the white clover with the floating azolla fern. Once we get our soil in better condition we can switch from plowing in covercrop to crimping the covercrop. If we can get a decent stand of covercrop growing after we harvest the rice, crimping should eliminate our need for plowing and almost all cultivation. That will probably get us to as close to Fukuoka's style as we can in the cold
Right now the only way to get rice seed from us is through the kickstarter. Either by signing up for the workshop or the seed packet reward. Rice seed is very tough to find on a commercial scale. There are lot of industry and state rules that control it. There is a lot of protectionism between the different big growers and also USA is the only country that has almost no disease pressure. Restricting seed movement is a way to keep it that way. That being said once we are conformable that we are producing high quality seed we will follow the rules set up for certified seed and start selling it.
We originally sourced our rice from the USDA Germplasm. It has a catalog of most plants collected by the USDA and its partners. Its is only for research practices, but if you are in an area that doesn't grow rice or this type of rice and your willing to talk about your findings that is probably good enough. You only get 5 grams. Which is plenty when you are just getting started. You can grow it in a bucket or in a small paddy. We had about 7 grams of seed that grew in a 12x12' paddy our first year. The variety that we know works in our area is Hayayuki. It is from Hokkaido which has a similar growing season.
Eating it is a whole other process. For small home plots mortar and pestle is the traditional way. It takes a bit of work and skill. We had to design and build a huller for the scale we are on.
Hey Josh - rather than going the ultra $ new route. Have you thought about getting a Gravely? There seems to a decent supply here in the Northeast. We're working on a non-profit farm for learning disabled adults and that's the route we're looking at. That way we can put additional money into housing and facilities.
posted 4 years ago
We have been borrowing and using our own old equipment for basically all my life. And I have work at enough places, that they seem really cheap up front but then break downs eat away at you. Old chainsaws don't start no firewood stacked today, chipper jams easy no bedding for the chicken, tractor leaks hydraulic fluid locked transmission. If your not trying to make a living with the equipment old is a risk that you can handle. But once you are depending on it to work day in and day out the upfront investment pays for it's self. There are so many variables in farming that anything you can do to limit trouble will always be helpful. I'm all for being frugal but it has a time and place.
We added another pledge level for a HD video version of our Rice growing workshop if anyone is interested. It will be mic'd and tripod shot so the quality will be very good. The video will included everything you will need to start growing your own rice.
Thanks to everyone that pledged. We made our goal and with 3 days to spare. Anything extra now will go towards our tree order for this year. There are still plenty of spots for our PDC and summer workshop series.