Simply 6 Minutes: Farmin’

When I saw this picture, all I could think about was crop rotation, the practice of planting different crops in different portions of your field and switching off between them each growing season. This year, this farmer is growing wheat in one field and lavender in another. Next season, he might switch the two, or he might have a third field which is laying fallow this year, i.e. one that has grass or clover in it, so next season he’ll grow lavender in that field, wheat in the field where lavender is growing now, and leave the wheat field lay fallow.

The big reason you do this is to allow the soil to replenish itself from season to season. The more I try to explain it, the more tangled up I get, and we only have six minutes, so here’s the Wikipedia article on it.

I grew up in Chicago, and as the song goes, just outside Chicago, there’s a place called Illinois. Illinois is a huge farming state, the big crops being corn, wheat, and soybeans. WGN-TV, which was one of the first cable stations, broadcast all over the Midwest, and had a show, Top O’ The Morning, early on Monday through Saturdays, that was aimed at the farmers, which included information on the current commodity prices, commercials from pesticide and seed companies, and features on farming trends and advice. The guy who hosted this show was a man named Orion Samuelson, who hosted the show for over sixty years. I had no idea what he was talking about, but something about his manner told me that he did, and so did the farmers all over the Midwest. There are video clips of him of him on YouTube; here’s a short one, a commercial for Pursuit herbicide.

Christine runs Simply 6 Minutes.

15 thoughts on “Simply 6 Minutes: Farmin’

  1. I lived in a farming community, and crop rotation was very common. I loved your piece on it, it’s a practice which should be highlighted for it’s benefits

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  2. Hi John – crop rotation … it’s coming back – well if it rains i is. Our fields are microscopic compared to the image you’ve given us. Takes me back to school too … and now whenever the Middle Ages is thought about – interesting, thank you – cheers Hilary

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  3. Just the term ‘crop rotation’ pulls me right back to Geography lessons in the 80s – as I remember we spent a long time on farming practices, and it was so boring. Now, I find it interesting, I think my education was wasted on me as a kid, I should have gone to school at 35!

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  4. On school mornings, if I got ready just a little too quickly, I’d catch the end of Top O’ The Morning before Ray Rayner started. Being a suburban kid, I didn’t know what the soybean report and pork belly futures were all about, but those phrases (and the voice of Orion Samuelson) were etched into my mind.

    Thanks for all of the reminders of my Chicagoland kid-hood!

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