witherington-paige-9Paige Witherington and Justin Dansby, Pitch Pine Farm

Mechanical Cultivation
Grant Award: $6,000

witherington-paige-8Paige and Justin purchased a vintage cultivating tractor and equipment to create a raised bed system in their fields, helping solve water drainage issues and creating an environment for better root growth and higher quality vegetables. The equipment also helps them save labor in weeding and expand production.

Since Transylvania County is the wettest in the state, water often pools in flat beds for long periods of time. Standing water causes plants to rot and be susceptible to disease, and soils become compacted and anaerobic. Paige estimated a Grant Award: $3,000 loss in 2015 due to crop disease because of lack of drainage.

witherington-paige-28They bought a raised bed maker/bed shaper implement, which lifts the growing surface six inches above ground level. Since raised beds lift soil closer to the sun, the soil is warmed so plants grow quickly. Long, strong roots develop in the extra loose soil, and mechanical cultivation tools have an easier surface to work in.

witherington-paige-14They chose a Farmall Cub vintage tractor to pull the implements because it is lightweight, minimizing compaction in the field. The tractor is easy to maintain due to its simplicity, and implements are belly mounted allowing for full visibility of the soil and plants.

“We will prevent compaction and keep our soil structure more viable by using the light Farmall tractor to disc fields for preparation instead of our large Kubota with a rototiller,” Paige said

They are also buying cultivation sweeps, discs and shanks for the Farmall, to be used in tasks such as hilling potatoes and weeding pathways.

“Each of these tools work together to create a mechanized system to reduce our own labor and eliminate many of the physical hazards of farm work,” Paige said. “They will create a healthier more timely managed cropping system to increase production, reduce labor, increase profits and enhance long-term viability.”

Paige and Justin sell at the Transylvania Farmers Market as well as to restaurants and independent grocery stores in Transylvania and Henderson Counties. They sell 45 different kinds of vegetables and dozens of varieties of herbs, flowers and fruits. They are certified organic.

For more background about Paige and Justin, see their 2015 WNC AgOptions project as well as www.pitchpineorganicfarm.com, www.facebook.com/pitchpinefarm, and www.instagram.com/pitchpinefarm.


Transylvania County

Contact the Local Extension Agent