Draft Horses






Horse Power for Natural Farming

Ken Laing
So you're an organic farmer and you think you're pretty smart.

You have eliminated pesticides and chemical fertilizers and thus reduced your input costs and benefited the environment, and you are getting twice the price for your production at the farm gate. But on the energy front we seem to be burning up a lot of petroleum producing this organic food and fiber. To me organic also means sustainable in the true sense of the word. If we are dependent on non renewable energy for the production and distribution of our great organic food, stop the tractor, I want off!
But you like your air conditioned cushy cab tractor with all its gadgets and you're just waiting for some corporation to buy your soybeans so they can process them into bio-diesel and then sell them back to you to run your tractor sustainably. It may happen sooner than I thought, but let me tell you about another great option. It's modular, solar powered, 4-wheel drive with power burst, programable with 340 degree vision, has a large memory bank and intelligence all its own, is soft and lovable, and it will not talk back, launch liability suits, or require paid holidays, pension plans, or unemployment insurance. Yep, you guessed right — it's the almost forgotten draft horse.

Assuming a well-conditioned team, equipment in good repair, and 10 hours in the field, with two 1,500-pound horses, in one day you can expect to:

Horse Power Productivity
plow 1 1/2 - 2 Acres
cultivate (single row) 7 acres
harrow 8-10 acres
mow 7 acres
drill 8-10 acres
rake 14 acres
plant 8-10 acres
haul on a wagon 1 1/2 tons 20-25 miles
Four horses could accomplish twice as much with the same human labor, but would require implements twice as wide.rh horse logo
Author
Ken Laing offered this information in his presentation at a Guelph [Ontario] Organic Conference workshop on using draft horses for farming. He owns Orchard HIll Farm and is a member of the Good Farming Apprenticeship Network, offering apprenticeships and workshops for people interested in learning to work
with draft horses.

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