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Village Vision News

Autumn’s leaves boost spring growth on the farm

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Getting farm fields ready for the spring planting season is a job that gets started well in advance. If you’ve ever wondered what becomes of all those leaves that the Village so kindly picks up for residents each fall, it might surprise you to know where they end up.

Residents pile their leaves at the curb — to the tune of about 80 tons in a season — and they get hauled away, but where do they go?

“We suck them up with leaf vacuums and then haul them out in the two trucks that are hooked up to the vacuums,” Public Works Director Larry Coloni said.

The leaves are brought out to the Village’s 141-acre farm, located near the water treatment plant. Once there, Public Works staffers use a manure spreader to spread the leaves out over the ground in a layer that is about 2-4 inches thick, Coloni said. This is leaf mulching in a big way.

Leaves are picked up in front of your house, as you likely recall, all through the fall. Coloni said his staff begins spreading those leaves at the farm in November and continues the work until the end of December.

He said the leaves get mixed in with the soil when the land is tilled. But, if it’s not tilled, the leaves are left to naturally decompose.

“The vacuum pulls leaves through a fan that pulverizes them when they’re dry,” he said. “But, if they’re wet, they stay pretty much whole. Mostly what is spread on the fields is like dust.”

Four of Coloni’s staff members operate the two trucks and vacuums for picking up the leaves. Spreading the leaves on the farm fields, he said, is a “two-man operation.” Getting rid of leaves can be costly, so this method helps the Village while benefiting the farm.

“It’s just a way to dispose of the leaves, but it helps the crop yield, too,” Coloni said.

Leaves …

  • are a carbon-rich material
  • suppress weeds, help retain soil moisture
  • make good insulating cover
  • when mulched, break down quickly in spring
  • add valuable organic matter
  • provide mineral nutrients

Source: The Old Farmer’s Almanac

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