A tractor drags a cultivator (like a large rake) across the field in order to make weeds `chit’ (germinate). A few days later the soil is cultivated again to uproot the seedlings.
Next the soil is ploughed to break up the soil ready for the seed to be sown, then harrowed to smooth out the furrows made by the plough.
Without artificial fertilizers, the soil is quickly exhausted if grain crops are planted year after year. So in the past, farmers rotated fields with different crops to allow the soil to rest. Rotation systems varied, but usually included grain, green plants, and ‘rest’ crops. The earliest systems had just two alternating fields. Medieval farmers used three fields. From the 1700s, rotations became more complex.
The farming year varies considerably around the world, and farmers do different tasks at different times of year in different places.
In temperate regions the crop farmer’s year starts in autumn after the harvest. Once the straw has been baled and the surplus burned, the race starts to prepare the soil for next year’s crops before snow and frost set in. 168 winter wheat or barley seed is sown, fertilizer is applied and the seed soon sprouts like a carpet of grass.
In winter, the farmer turns to tasks like hedge-cutting, ditching and fencing.
In spring potatoes, oats and spring wheat and barley are planted, and winter crops ated with nitrogen fertilizer. In spring and summer, many farmers at crops with 30 or more pesticides and weedkillers.
As the summer wears on the wheat turns gold and is ready for harvesting when the electronic moisture me shows it contains less than 18% moisture.
If the summer is damp, the grain’s moisture content may not go down below 25%, making harvesting difficult. But warm sun can quickly rectify the situation.
The farming year ends with the harvest. In the past this used to be separated into various stages – harvesting, threshing, winnowing and baling. Now inbine harvesters allow the farmer to complete them all at one go.