VALENTINI ROCK TILLER PUT TO THE TEST
Our new Valentini Rock Tiller arrived on island in late October 2020. We had already received the huge John Deere 7310R tractor that we needed to pull the extremely heavy rock tiller.
Once we had these two pieces of machinery, it was a matter of getting the rock tiller attached to the tractor and having our machinery operator trained in the operation of the sophisticated equipment.
By January, we were finally ready to try out the rock tiller. We started with a small test area and we were extremely pleased with the results: The resulting ground rock is of a fine texture, and we are getting a depth of about 14" after two passes with the tiller.
Many interested visitors have come to see the rock tiller in action and none of them have been disappointed! The Valentini Rock Tiller could very well be a game changer for the Agricultural Community in Cayman!
LAND CLEARING AND FIELD PREP BEGIN IN EARNEST
With the effectiveness of our Rock Tiller proven, we have begun to clear and till more of the acreage at Beacon Farms. We are aiming to prepare an acre of land so that it has a good root depth.
After the rock has been tilled and ground into fine sand, we will add our compost to produce a productive soil.
The newly created fields will be most likely be planted with mangel beets, sweet potatoes, and tobacco. As we continue to experiment with the types of crops we want to focus on, these may be interchanged with other things.
One thing, is for sure - the possibilities have now increased in terms of what we can grow and how efficiently it can be done!
ADDING OUR COMPOST TO THE NEW FIELDS
Our compost made of recycled paper, cardboard, pallets and landscaping waste, is now being transported to the fields that were tilled by our Valentini Rock tiller.
The newly tilled fields have very little organic matter as they are mostly made of finely-crushed rock, so the addition of this compost will enrich the soil to make it a more suitable medium for our future crops.
PREPARING COMMERCIAL FIELD FOR NEXT CROP OF TOBACCO
A portion of what we call "Commercial Field A" is now being prepared for the next crop of tobacco. Our Valentini tiller made quick work of turning the soil over and tilling in the weeds. Next we will amend the field with an acidifier and fertilizer.
This part of the field is about 0.08 acres and will be planted in October with around 1,000 Criollo 98 plants. This variety of tobacco is grown for cigar filler leaves.
BEACON COMMERCIAL FIELDS EXPANDED WITH VALENTINI ROCK TILLER
As we enter 2022, Beacon Farms is getting serious about planting large volumes of cash crops. We have done some limited planting in our Research Garden and Small Vegetable Garden to familiarize ourselves to the crops that we want to grow.
Having done that, we now need to expand into commercial quantities. To do that we need space!
We have selectively cleared around 2 acres of land and the Valentini Rock tiller has been implemented to break up the hard rock in our Commercial Growing area. We have effectively turned unfarmable rock shelves into fields which can be planted out in economical straight lines!
Eventually tasks such as plant bed formation, the laying of irrigation hose, and the planting of seeds or seedlings will be mechanized!
The goal is to demonstrate that even in the Cayman Islands, we have the capability to farm on a large scale. If large fields of staple crops can be grown economically, this will be a big step towards at least partial food security when importing food may become more uncertain and difficult.