One of life’s most fundamental necessities is sleep. The primary purpose of sleep is to allow the body and mind to recharge, while also helping the body to remain healthy and fight off diseases. Much like us humans, the land on which we farm also requires rejuvenation, or a period of rest. We refer to this as our Fallow Period.
An important part of Bayer’s sustainability practices, fallow periods are time intervals during which a crop is not being grown in the field. During this time, a field is left planted with a cover crop, allowing the land to rest and rejuvenate. Among the many benefits, fallow periods help reduce pests by removing their preferred food source for a period of time. In Hawaii, all of our fields on farms on Oahu, Maui and Molokai remain fallow for about eight months out of the year. There is one crop grown per field, per year.
After a field is harvested, we prepare the field for cover crop planting. We utilize a minimum amount of tillage in the field preparation which helps to remove disease and insect pressure by not only removing the crop itself which can attract a multitude of pests, but by burying the diseased parts of the crop which can then be broken down by the microorganisms that are living in the soil..
Cover crops, such as oats, sun hemp, sunflowers and buckwheat, are then planted in these fallow areas to improve the soil quality by supporting nutrient management, as well as providing vegetative cover to help with water retention and reduce soil erosion. Our cover crops keep our soil healthy by suppressing weeds and reducing insects and diseases that could affect future crops.
Minimum tillage and utilizing cover crops are just a few of the many tools we use to sustainably manage our farms. We use a wide range of methods to reduce crop damage, promote biodiversity, and ensure we maintain healthy crops and productive, sustainable farms.
Here are a few photos of our Haleiwa Farm that is currently in its second fallow period of the year.