Sustainable Vegetable Production from Start-Up to Market

Publication Number: NRAES-104
Cost: $38.00
Length: 268 pages
Published: 1999
ISBN: 0-935817-45-X

Successful vegetable farmers do much more than produce vegetables; they also manage money, people, and natural resources effectively. For aspiring and beginning vegetable growers, experienced growers, extension personnel, classroom educators, and serious gardeners, this book introduces the full range of processes for moderate-scale vegetable production using ecological practices that minimize the need for synthetic inputs and maximize stewardship of resources. Individual chapters address principles and practices essential to planning, launching, and managing a vegetable production business: the practical implications of sustainability; getting started; farm business management; marketing; soil fertility; composting; crop rotation; cover crops; tillage equipment and field preparation; seeds and transplants; irrigation and spraying systems; harvest and postharvest handling; season extension; integrated pest management; and environmentally friendly strategies for managing insects, diseases, weeds, and wildlife. Thirty-two profiles detail the experiences of individual vegetable growers and provide enterprise budgets for a number of crops. The book includes 91 illustrations, 36 sidebars, 20 tables, 6 appendixes, a glossary, and extensive references.

Successful vegetable farmers do much more than produce vegetables; they also manage money, people, and natural resources effectively. A book from NRAES, the Natural Resource, Agriculture, and Engineering Service, can broaden the knowledge and guide the planning of those who grow vegetables or are considering beginning a vegetable production business. Sustainable Vegetable Production from Start-Up to Market, NRAES-104 (280 pages, August 1999), introduces the full range of processes for moderate-scale vegetable production using ecological practices that minimize the need for synthetic inputs and maximize stewardship of resources. The book includes in-depth profiles of 32 vegetable producers.

Sustainable Vegetable Production from Start-Up to Market provides practical information on such essential matters as selecting a farm site; planning and record keeping; marketing options; and systems for starting, planting, protecting, and harvesting crops. The 280-page book is enhanced by 91 illustrations, 36 sidebars, and 20 tables. Individual chapters cover fundamental aspects of economic and environmental sustainability. Initial chapters address principles and practices essential to planning and launching a business: the practical implications of sustainability, getting started, farm business management, and marketing. The chapters that follow discuss essential production processes, focusing on soil fertility, composting, crop rotation, cover crops, tillage equipment and field preparation, seeds and transplants, irrigation and spraying systems, harvest and postharvest handling, season extension, integrated pest management, and environmentally friendly strategies for managing insects, diseases, weeds, and wildlife. A final chapter profiles the experiences of individual vegetable growers and provides their enterprise budgets for a number of crops. The grower profiles offer real-life examples of how farmers think about and deal with specific conditions. Appendixes include additional information resources, sources of supplies, a work sheet for developing vegetable enterprise budgets, vegetable crop nutrient recommendations, and useful conversions and calculations. A glossary and references are also included.

Sustainable Vegetable Production from Start-Up to Market was written by Vernon P. Grubinger, vegetable and berry specialist for University of Vermont Extension and director of the University of Vermont Center for Sustainable Agriculture.

Recommended for anyone concerned with the balance between crop production and stewardship of resources, Sustainable Vegetable Production from Start-Up to Market will be a valuable resource for aspiring and beginning vegetable growers, experienced growers, extension personnel, and serious gardeners, and a useful text for college-level vegetable production courses

List of Sidebars

List of Figures

List of Tables


Chapter 1: Sustainable, Integrated, and Organic Production Systems

Defining Sustainability
Understanding Sustainability
Integrated Crop Management
Organic Farming
Sustainable Agriculture and Society
Profitability and Sustainability-A Grower Profile (Scout and Matt Proft)

Chapter 2: Getting Started in Vegetable Farming

Setting Personal Goals
Evaluating Your Enterprise Ideas
Holistic Resource Management
Obtaining Practical Experience
Finding a Place to Farm
Soil Quality
Existing Structures and Equipment
Traffic Pattern
Local Demographics
Local Competition
Zoning Regulations
Property Taxes
Assessing Land You Already Own
Cautions on Buying Used Equipment
Affordable Equipment Acquisition-A Grower Profile (Paul and Sandy Arnold)

Chapter 3: Farm Business Management

Financial Planning
Writing a Business Plan
Budgeting and Financial Management
Strategic Planning
Assessing Management Choices
Labor Management
Organizational Structure
Participatory Management
Hiring Employees
Record Keeping
Whole-Farm Planning
Record Keeping for Profitability-A Grower Profile (Richard Wiswall)

Chapter 4: Marketing Your Crops

Marketing Options
Wholesale Marketing
Retail Marketing
Retail Marketing Skills

Chapter 5: Soil Fertility Management

Organic Matter Management
Conservation of Soil Organic Matter
Addition of Organic Residues
Assessing Nutrient Needs
Soil Testing
Tissue Analysis
Fertilizer Recommendations
Soil Test Results and Recommendations
Soil pH
Percent Organic Matter
Cation Exchange Capacity
Base Saturation Ratio
Trace Elements
Nitrogen Management
Optimizing Nitrogen Fertilization
Animal Manures as a Nitrogen Source
Green Manures as a Nitrogen Source
Compost as a Nitrogen Source
Nitrogen Release from Soil Organic Matter
Applying Fertilizer
Choosing among Fertilizers
Calculating Fertilizer Application Rates
Application Methods
Application Equipment
Planning a Sustainable Fertilization Program
Minimizing Off-Farm Nutrient Inputs-A Grower Profile (Russell Pocock and Therese Shaheen)

Chapter 6: On-Farm Composting

Benefits and Drawbacks of Composting
The Composting Process
Composting Systems
Regulation of Composting
Compost for Greenhouse Use
Compost for Field Use
Composting Equipment
Testing Compost
On-Farm Composting-A Grower Profile (Steven Wisbaum)

Chapter 7: Crop Rotation

Rotation Groups
Rotation by Botanical Family
Planning a Rotation
Rotational Units
Relative Area for Different Crops
Steps to Planning a Rotation
Cover Crop Rotations
Clean-Cultivated Fallows
Rotation for Pest Control
Rotation with Livestock Operations
Crop Rotation-A Grower Profile (Anne and Eric Nordell)

Chapter 8: Cover Crops and Green Manures

Potential Benefits of Cover Crops
Cover Cropping Strategies
Fallow Cover Crops
Winter Cover Crops
Smother Crops
Inter-Seeded Cover Crops
Seed for Cover Cropping
Cover Crop Species
Grasses for Cover Cropping
Other Nonlegumes for Cover Cropping
Legumes for Cover Cropping
Under-Sowing Cover Crops-A Grower Profile (David Stern)

Chapter 9: Tillage Equipment and Field Preparation

Soil and Crop Considerations
Tractor Options
Used Tractors
Equipment for Primary Tillage
Moldboard Plows
Chisel Plows
Subsoilers (V-Rippers)
Rototillers and Rotavators
Spading Machines
Equipment for Secondary Tillage
Field Cultivators (Conditioners)
Bed-Formers (Shapers)
Conservation Tillage (No-Till or Minimum Tillage)
No-Till Vegetables-A Grower Profile (Steve and Cheri Groff)

Chapter 10: Seeds and Transplants

Seed Quality
Seed Treatments
Storing Seed
Seed Testing
Seeding Considerations
Equipment for Seeding
Production from Transplants
Purchasing Transplants Versus Producing on Farm
On-Farm Transplant Production
Equipment for Setting Transplants
Planting Arrangement
Transplanting Efficiency-A Grower Profile (Bruce Kaufman and Judy Jarvis)

Chapter 11: Irrigation and Spraying Systems

Irrigation Systems
Equipment for Overhead Sprinkler Irrigation
Equipment for Trickle (Drip) Irrigation
Irrigation Scheduling
Spray Equipment
Drip Irrigation-A Grower Profile (Ted and Molly Bartlett)

Chapter 12: Harvest and Postharvest Handling

Harvesting Equipment
Postharvest Handling
Postharvest Cooling
Postharvest Washing
Packing Lines
Vegetable Yields
Harvest Management-A Grower Profile (Linda Hildebrand and Michael Docter)

Chapter 13: Season Extension

Cultural Practices That Speed Crop Growth
Raised Beds
Green-Sprouting and Seed Priming
Scheduling Greenhouse Use
Greenhouse Structures and Equipment
High Tunnels
Cold Frames
Row Covers
Plastic Mulches
Emergency Frost Protection
Optimizing Investment in Greenhouses-A Grower Profile (Ed Person)

Chapter 14: Integrated Pest Management

Reasons for Practicing IPM
Principles of IPM and ICM
Cultural Practices for Vegetable IPM
Pest Identification and Monitoring
Crop Scouting
Crop Monitoring
Pesticide Use and IPM
Types of Pesticides
Pesticide Names
Pesticide Toxicity
Requirements for Pesticide Use
"Organic" Pesticides
IPM-A Grower Profile (Jim Quarella)

Chapter 15: Insect Management

Insect Classification
Insect Pest Damage
Cultural Practices for Insect Management
Crop Rotation for Insect Management
Sanitation for Insect Management
Barriers for Insect Management
Tillage and Insect Management
Vacuuming for Insect Management
Selection of Plant Varieties for Insect Management
Timing Plantings for Insect Management
Companion Planting for Insect Management
Trap Cropping for Insect Management
Under-Sowing and Insect Management
Overhead Irrigation and Insect Management
Flaming for Pest Management
Biological Control of Insect Pests
Conservation of Natural Enemies

Chapter 16: Disease Management

Identifying Plant Diseases
Managing Plant Diseases
Disease Resistance and Tolerance
Sanitation to Reduce Inoculum
Cultural Practices for Disease Management
Fungicides to Control Vegetable Crop Diseases

Chapter 17: Weed Management

Classification of Weeds
Weed Control Techniques
Short-Term Weed Control
Long-Term Weed Control
Cultural Practices for Weed Control
Crop Rotation for Weed Prevention
Smother Cropping for Weed Suppression
Stale Seedbed Technique for Weed Control
Composting Manure for Weed Control
Mulching for Weed Suppression
Intercropping for Weed Suppression
Mowing for Weed Suppression
Careful Placement of Resources
Crop Establishment Techniques for Weed Control
Cultivation Equipment for Weed Control
Equipment for Pre-Emergence Cultivation
Equipment for Blind Cultivation
Equipment for Post-Emergence Cultivation
Equipment for Flame Weeding

Chapter 18: Wildlife Management

Common Wildlife Species That Damage Vegetable Crops
Controlling Damage by Deer
Controlling Damage by Woodchucks
Controlling Damage by Raccoons
Controlling Damage by Rabbits
Controlling Damage by Birds
Controlling Damage by Voles
Wildlife Management-A Grower Profile (Brian Caldwell and Twinkle Griggs)

Chapter 19: Grower Profiles and Enterprise Budgets for Vegetable Crops

Asparagus-A Grower Profile (Bob and Jane Pomykala)
Broccoli-A Grower Profile (Skip Paul)
Carrots-A Grower Profile (Hank and Cecelia Bissell)
Eggplant-A Grower Profile (Gary Gemme and Dave Wojciechowski)
Garlic-A Grower Profile (Grace Reynolds)
Green Beans-A Grower Profile (Chuck Armstrong)
Kale and Collard Greens-A Grower Profile (David Marchant and Jane Sorenson)
Leeks-A Grower Profile (Cliff Hatch)
Lettuce-A Grower Profile (David and Chris Colson)
Muskmelons-A Grower Profile (Pooh and Anne Sprague)
Parsnips-A Grower Profile (Doug Jones)
Potatoes-A Grower Profile (Rob Johanson and Janice Goranson)
Pumpkins-A Grower Profile (Jim Barber)
Rutabagas-A Grower Profile (Dennis King)
Spinach-A Grower Profile (Robin Ostfeld and Lou Johns)
Sweet Corn-A Grower Profile (Steve Mong)
Field Tomatoes-A Grower Profile (David Trumble)
Greenhouse Tomatoes-A Grower Profile (Mike Collins)

Appendix A: Additional Information Resources

Appendix B: Publishers' Addresses

Appendix C: Supplier Contact Information

Appendix D: Work Sheet for Developing a Vegetable Enterprise Budget

Appendix E: Vegetable Crop Nutrient Recommendations

Appendix F: Useful Conversions and Calculations



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