The votes are in! The winner of the 2022 Carrot Cache Innovation Prize is Scott Sigurdson of Indian Creek Orchard Gardens, with Innovation #4: Compost Drop Spreader. Read more about Scott’s innovation below.
Innovation #1: Small-scale Netting System for Haskaps
Years ago we simply draped netting over the Haskap bushes, [but there were] two problems:
- Birds ate the top fruit
- Birds were so determined to get more, that they got tangled in the netting – becoming injured or worse.
Now we use T-posts (7 per side) and clothesline (50′ lengths or less – to avoid stretching), plus one width (I sewed two nets together) of netting, to create a structured appearance that clears the tops of the bushes and eliminates folds or odd shapes that can trap birds. No birds have died since we started using this system.
I harvest by hand – the bushes ripen at different times – I simply lift and rest the netting on the wire, then lower the netting again as I move to another part of the row. Flying insects can still move in and out of the netting. A number of the materials we used were on hand – not purchased. The basic idea of this project could be carried out with different materials.
|T posts 7ft high x 14||$140|
|Clothesline 100ft x 2 (one per side)||$40|
|Lee Valley Netting 12′ x 117′ (1/2″mesh)||$209|
Innovation #2: Method for Burning Holes in Landscape Fabric
Our landscape fabric is 100′ long and burning holes in it took 2 people about 45min. Even longer on windy days since it would blow around. Plus, the torch goes out when you place it vertically.
By keeping the fabric anchored and putting it vertical, our solution allows one person to do the job in 20min.
|Old farm gate||$100|
Innovation #3: Alternative Seed Starting Mix Using Biochar
The benefits of Peat Bogs are well known, as are the damaging effects of harvesting it. Coco coir is sometimes suggested as an alternative, but it comes from far away lands. We wanted to find a better alternative to peat moss & coco coir for seed starting.
We thought that we might try using Biochar as a substitute, as it has some similar properties to use as part of seed starting medium. It is loose and non-clumping, which are some of the main uses for peat or coir. Activated Biochar also has added benefits of amending soil for long term, possibly reducing need for amendments. If this is true, then we can expect that the soil from the transplant using Biochar will have more nutrients.
We ultimately found that creating our own seed starting mixes resulted in inconsistent quality, but that there was a lot of promise using a biochar.
|Premium Starting Medium||$200|
Innovation #4: Compost Drop-Spreader
Being an organic farm we rely heavily on the use of compost spread annually. We spread on average 8 dump truck loads each year and have over 2km of beds to cover. We designed a drop spreader to vastly reduce the manpower required to spread the compost.
It is designed to hold a little over a cubic yard of material and can be pulled with a small tractor. The wheels are spaced 4′ OC so they do not compact our beds which are 30 inches wide. It has a small 3hp gas engine that powers an agitator to ease and meter the compost. The thickness of compost dropped can be regulated by a combination of hatch opening size, agitator speed and ground speed. It’s been a real game changer on our farm.
I have a set of construction drawings that anyone who is interested could have.
|Sheet metal and cutting||$1,000|
|Motor, gears, hardware||$600|
Innovation #5: Tractor Mounted Livestock Water and Feed Unit
This unit is a palletized moveable unit (with pallet forks) which combines three day capacity grain storage (repurposed waterproof freezer) with a three day water supply (50 gallon barrel). Grain can be stored in feed bags and/or loose in freezer. An electric pump which is powered by jumper cables and any 12volt battery means you can pump water from barrel into any receptacle within 50′ of the unit. A small hole in the top middle of the barrel big enough only for the pump means a minimum of water loss while moving the unit.
This setup has allowed us to optimize the feeding and watering of our laying hens which move daily. The pallet is moved and restocked every three days which is exactly how long it takes for the chickens to get too far away from the restocking unit and run through the stored water and feed. The whole unit can be quickly attached and detached from the forks using a ratchet strap.
For larger capacity storage move to largest size chest freezer and additional 50gallon barrel.
|Used 50 gallon Barrel||$20|
|Freezer (doesn’t need to be working, look online/ask around)||$0|