Vegetable Production tech.

crows
When the high
Snows lie worn
To rags along
The muddy furrows,
 __________________
And the frozen
Sky frays, drooping
Gray and sodden
To the ground,
 __________________
The sleek crows
Appear, flying
Low across the
Threadbare meadow
 __________________
To jeer at
Winter’s ruin
With their jubilant
Thaw! Thaw! Thaw!
___________________
by Valerie Worth
 __________________
From Farm School Head Grower, Tyson Neukirch, who has been working to keep our vegetable production connected to new technology and innovation in the world of small farming:
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I am writing to let you all know about a exciting collaborative research project that we are involved evaluating the usefulness of wireless digital sensor technology for small farms. We have partnered with UMASS extension and Larry Manire of Databasics to implement this experiment. 

There are two general classes of sensors that we are using. First are the digital weather stations. We now have one weather station at Maggies Farm (located next to the Student Farmer parking lot) and one at Sentinel Elm (located on the south side of the lower orchard). These weather stations have digital consoles with real-time read outs that are located in the Maggie’s farm house and the greenhouse respectively. These weather stations are linked to Weather Underground so you can access the realtime weather data at the farm from your computer or smartphone by visiting http://www.wunderground.com/. The station IDs for our weather stations are KMAORANGE4 (Maggies Farm) and KMAATHOL6 (Sentinel Elm). If you really want to geek out you can download the Wunder Station and Wunder Map apps for tablet and smartphone platforms.

IMG_1750
The new weather station in the Sentinel Elm garden.
The second class of sensors we are using measure individual characteristics (air temp, humidity, leaf wetness, soil moisture, soil temperature, etc). We will be trialing these sensors in Home Base field at Maggies and the hoop house and Flat Field at Sentinel Elm. I am still in the process of configuring these sensors but when they are up and going I will let you all know and you will be able to track these data points as well. 
We hope to use these sensors to improve our agricultural decision making on the farm, particularly as it relates to IPM strategies by having more localized data to input to models that track life cycles of diseases and pests so that we can better plan our intervention and mitigation strategies. That said, there are endless possibilities of how these sensors could be used to provide farmers with more accurate data which (hypothetically) can help said farmers make better decisions. 
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 The sugaring season has ended on a strong note here at The Farm School, with a great last run that filled every last jar we have with beautiful syrup. We’ll be rationing it out in the bunkhouse over the next few months, but we can never make it last long enough. Young plants are growing bigger and bigger in the greenhouse, and the students have cleaned and prepped the neighboring hoop house that we use to transition plant starts into more natural temperatures before going out into the fields. They have also started seeding some of the warm season plants like eggplants and tomatoes, getting ready for the next wave of plants that love the long hot days of middle summer. We are working fast to finish up our firewood work for the year, burning brush piles, splitting and stacking the last few log rounds, and cleaning up before the grass starts to grow and covers everything up. We are down to the last three ewe of lambing season, and the student farmers, who’ve been checking on the ewes every two hours, twenty-four hours a day, for the past five weeks, are looking forward to the arrival of the last lamb. We have twenty lambs so far, and the season has been great so far.
IMG_1748
Our new piglet house, all finished, and looking to me like a big mushroom.i
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