By Christopher Tobutt
Beacon Farms at Frank Sound Road in North Side keeps shining a light into the future of Cayman’s Agriculture. Now, they have started to do something that most Cayman farmers only dream about – converting the thin, rocky soil to deep, rich rock-free fertile rich brown soil. Their secret ingredient is a rock-crushing machine, which, when attached to the back of a powerful tractor, moves over the rocks to pulverize them and make them into fine sand which becomes an integral part of the soil structure. Plenty of organic material in the form of humus is then mixed in, to provide the beautiful deep brown soil you can see in the photograph. The humus comes from a large, state-of-the-art composting facility on the farm, which transforms tons of green waste into high-quality compost in in a few weeks. The farm has been testing out the rock crusher all this year, and the results are very impressive.
What is happening at beacon farms is something of a small agricultural revolution, because it doesn’t rely on artificial fertilizers, which many of Cayman’s farmers and growers depend on to provide their crops with the vital nutrients they need. But Beacon Farms likes to try to work with the ecosystem, rather than against it, because this is not only better for the environment, but also better for the long-term sustainability of their farm.
The 34 Acres is gradually being transformed from an overgrown wilderness to land where a wide variety of crops are being grown, including cash crops tobacco, which are used to make Cayman’s very own brand of high-quality cigars, and fodder beet that are to be sold to local livestock owners. They need deep soil for these crops and the soil which came with the land several years ago is extremely rocky, and very thin.
“These photos show the crop fields before planting. The Rock Crusher has ground the rock and mixed the soil, our compost has been mixed with the soil and the planting beds formed. We are controlling the soil as much as is possible. This area will be planted in a new tobacco Piloto Cubano, “said Beacon Farm’s Chairman, Granger Haugh.
He helped get the farm going several years ago as a way of providing real employment to a dozen or so men and women who have gone through a 12-step addiction recovery programme, to help get them back on their feet again so that they can rebuild their lives. They have attended the programme offered by the Bridge Foundation in West Bay.
“Our 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. The resulting ground rock is of a fine texture, and we are getting a depth of about 14" after two passes with the tiller.”
22 Jun, 2022
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15 Sep, 2021