Une innovation en traction animale

Chers lecteurs,

Il y a souvent le réflexe de penser que cultiver avec les chevaux, c’est “cultiver à l’ancienne” ou encore que c’est comme “dans le bon vieux temps”.

Mais non! Il s’agit plutôt d’une agriculture post-moderne. Nous nous inspirons du passé et du présent pour créer l’avenir que nous voulons vivre. Les chevaux sont très bien adaptés pour la majorité des tâches sur une ferme maraîchère comme la nôtre. Pour les tâches moins bien adaptées au chevaux, nous avons aussi un tracteur… c’est la beauté d’un système hybride.

Dans ce billet de blogue, j’aimerais vous présenter une innovation que nous avons développé dans notre méthode de désherbage mécanique avec les chevaux…. On plante des rangs jumelés (2 rangs par butte plutôt qu’une seul) et on est capable de quand même les désherber avec nos chevaux.  Cela nous permet de doubler la densité de plusieurs cultures incluant carottes, betteraves, radis et rabioles.

Je tiens à remercier David Fisher de Natural Roots Farm au Massachusetts pour son partage d’information généreux l’hiver passé! Cela m’a beaucoup aidé dans le développement de ce nouveau système (car il avait essayé de développer un système semblable sans résultats concluants).

En fait, j’aimerais profiter de ce blogue pour lui faire un suivi de comment s’est déroulé l’essai l’année passée et de la direction dans laquelle nous allons cette année. C’est pourquoi le restant de se billet sera en anglais et plus orienté vers les fermiers comme lecteur cible (plus de détails techniques pour les “farmer-nerds”).

Bonne découverte!


The following is a brief overview of our 2015 trials with cultivating two rows per ridge:

The first step is to shape the ridges (small beds)


We prefer using wide sweeps in the alleys to shape the ridges instead of discs. I find it yields a more uniform and reproductible result. Note the use of a spring tooth of a tine weeder to apply pressure to the levelling device

Final ridge, 36 inches center to center. I aim to have a ridge that is not too tall  with a rather wide, flat, rock free surface. When the ridges are too tall, I find it harder to cultivate close to small crops without leaving the roots exposed to drying.


Frontal view of sweeps. This set up is used for stale seed bedding. the center sweep is very flat. The idea is simply to work 1 or 2 cm deep to disrupt those little germinating weed seeds, without undoing the ridge too much. A pleasant side effect of this process is that many of the rocks that are on the ridge top get pushed into the alleys, thus leaving a nicer seedbed for planting.

Here we go… the very first time using this set up.

I like to offset the center tooth a bit to the right. I then cultivate each ridge in two passes, each time focusing on getting super close to the right hand row. I could do it in one pass with the center tooth dead center, but I would lose in precision. The goal is no hand weeding in direct seeded crops, which we usually are able to do (except for the 2 first seedings in the spring as we don’t have enough time to do a proper stale seed bed prep. )


Molly Brown and Molly Black, both 22 year old mares.


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Homemade bracket for mounting the center tooth. In this picture the tooth is angled towards the row so as to throw soil on the weeds growing at the base of the carrots, thus burying the weeds.

A bit nerve wracking to drive… more learning needed. Especially when the 2 rows are not seeded exactly the right distance apart!!

Check out the video of the cultivator in action on our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/fermemelilot/

In 2015 we were simply tracing the 2 rows with a hand held 2 pronged rake type tool. We would then simply follow each of those marks to seed 2 rows per ridge.

This year we have purchased a double row seeder. This will assure that the two rows are always the same distance apart which will make the driving much easier!

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I was looking for a way to cultivate carrots at the cotyledon stage without risking burying them. This summer I’ll be testing this contraption out. Three flex-tine weeder teeth at just the right spacing to run between the two rows (1,5 inches from each row of carrots). I’m hoping to be able to cultivate with greater precision as soon as they’ve germinated. In 2015 we were hoeing the carrots at that stage since I was not setting my center tooth too close to the rows.

This entry was posted in Non Classé, Nouvelles de la ferme. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Une innovation en traction animale

  1. Xavier says:

    Beau post, cool photos :)

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