Seedbed, maybe you never thought of it that way but but making a nice cozy place for a seed to germinate is very important. Keep in mind planting corn for a corn maze is different that planting corn just to raise to harvest to sell. We spend a bit more time and money getting this field prepared than a “normal farmer” would.
In past years we planted the field “No-Till”, that is we would just plant into the field as we left it after harvest the previous fall. The planter has what are called “Row Wipes” that push aside the “Trash” (leftover organic matter and other plant material) left from last year and the row unit has steel disks that open up the soil, place the seed and close the seed trench. It worked fine but we wanted to start using cow manure as fertilizer and we needed to work it into the soil. This required we go “old school” and back the the moldboard plow.
At one point in time the Moldboard plow and it evolution through the 1800′s was as technologically advanced as Global Positioning Satellite systems are today. Click HERE to read it’s history. Advancements in design and materials changed the face of agriculture and thereby our country.
After we plow the corn maze field we follow with what is called a “Disk”. Timing can depend on soil moisture, time of year or equipment availability. It has a series of disk shaped blades mounted on a shaft or an arbor. They are positioned at a slight angle to the direction of travel and to each other. There are usually four arbors with disks mounted on them. This is called a gang that is mounted to a frame via roller bearings that allow the disks to rotate as the tool is pulled across the field.
Again as I’ve mentioned building a Corn Maze in Ohio and planting the corn for a corn maze we do things a bit different than we would just planting a “regular” corn field. This corn has to not only yield but also be part of an experience for our guests. After the disk we work the ground with a field cultivator. It has small shovel-like tools mounted on a spring loaded arm and steel bar that runs from one side of the tool to the other. The purpose of this tool is to level the soil bed. It fills in ruts left by the disk and knocks down high spots as well.
The last pass across the field before planting we use a cultipacker to further level the soil and also break up some of the dirt clods some more. We want to provide a firm but not overly packed soil bed for the seed. You want the soil fine enough to get optimal seed to soil contact without packing the soil and compacting it to the point it can crust if and when you get a rain. It is a judgement call. You can plant right into disked ground but again for purposes of the corn maze we do things a bit different.
In out next post about planting a Corn Maze we will talk about the planter itself and how we actually place the seed in the soil.