Raised Bed Farming Techniques

21 December 18

A farmer’s livelihood relies on the predictability of precipitation and temperature to grow healthy crops with high yields. Knowing when to expect heavy rainfall or periods of drought impacts a farmer’s decision about what to plant and when.

Over the last 10 years, weather patterns have become increasingly unpredictable in the United States. Large commercial farmers must deal with extreme weather like severe droughts as well as flooding from excessive rainfall. This can cause a ~10-80% variation in expected production yields.

Scientists believe these extreme weather patterns will only worsen in the future. Smart farmers need to make changes to their farming techniques now to better guarantee their next harvest.

Raised bed farming designs prove very effective for commercial farmers growing hemp, tomatoes, strawberries, melons, etc. Learn more about raised bed farm design and how it can benefit your large-scale farm below.

What is Raised Bed Farming?

Raised bed farming refers to the agricultural technique of building freestanding crop beds above the existing level of soil. Sometimes raised beds are covered with plastic mulch to create a closed planting bed.

Raised beds may be rectangular in shape or have an irregular shape. They can be formal or informal in their design. A raised bed does not need to be very deep to be productive. Depending on the crop, farmers can build beds of only 8″-12″ deep.

Two Types of Raised Bed Farm Design

A raised farm bed without support looks like a flat top mound about 6″-8″ tall. It requires no additional materials other than the enriched soil. This type is more commonly used in large-scale and commercial farming.

Alternatively, a framework made of plastic, brick, stone, or untreated wood surrounds a supported raised bed. It looks like a planting box filled with soil. Home gardeners more commonly use supported raised beds.

Benefits of Raised Bed Farming

Raised bed farming techniques do not exist just to be different. They offer significant benefits to both small and large-scale farmers using them correctly. While the construction of raised beds differs when done in the small-scale versus the large-scale, the advantages remain the same.

Farmers trying to grow crops in rocky or poor soil must spend a lot of money installing drainage systems. The same goes for commercial farmers working in an area with too much rainfall or a high water table. Switching to a raised crop bed saves money since you do not need to invest in an expensive drainage system.

Commercial farmers who live in colder environments also benefit from a raised farm bed versus traditional techniques. A raised bed lifts the soil out of the hard ground into smaller piles with trenches between. In spring, this allows greater airflow to reach the soil so it warms up much faster.

It does not matter if you want to grow vegetables, herbs, flowers, or fruit. Any industrial agricultural operation will benefit from incorporating raised beds.

Breakdown of Commercial Raised Bed Farm Design

When building a raised crop bed for commercial agricultural purposes, you must take the following design issues into account.

Where to Put the Raised Bed

Deciding where to place your raised bed field depends on the location of your farm and the crops you plan to grow. Two of the most important things to consider are local waterways and surface drainage.

Raised beds create more water runoff than standard farming techniques amounting to about 5-10% of rainfall during the growing season. Farmers have a legal responsibility to safely dispose of the excess water from their land. Building raised beds so water runoff does not enter local water systems is very important, especially when using fertilizers and herbicides.

Other factors to consider when deciding where to place your raised bed include the bed’s orientation from north to south and how easily you can access the beds with machinery.

How to Irrigate a Raised Bed

Irrigating a raised bed can pose problems if you do not consider it during the design process. You can install a low-volume drip irrigation system using drip tape.

Sprinklers work, but they can lead to potential disease issues. Some machines used for forming raised beds also lay down irrigation tape while creating the bed. Large-scale farms benefit greatly from laying irrigation down while building raised beds.

The Best Machinery to Work with Commercial Raised Beds

Farmers use tractor attachments such as bed shapers and plastic mulch layers to create raised beds on anything from a small family farm to commercial farms with thousands of acres. Bed shapers are used to form soil from flat land into raised crop beds, turning the soil as it shapes the bed. The size of the bed depends on the crop being farmed.

As the bed shaper runs across the field, the soil is churned and pulled up for the bed press pan to shape the soil into a tight, even raised bed. The bed shaper creates a set number of raised beds depending on the number of press pans on the implement.

Farmers can also use a plastic mulch layer to install a layer of plastic on top of the raised beds. This plastic layer serves as “mulch” to keep the soil from washing away when it rains and to give farmers better control of moisture levels by keeping rain out and using drip irrigation to water the crop plants from inside the plastic mulch. Farmers also fertilize and fumigate the soil when prepping and shaping the beds before laying the plastic mulch in order to create a rich soil and prevent weeds.

Bed shaper mulch layer combo tractor attachments can be used to shape raised beds and lay plastic mulch in one pass.

Get the Best Raised Bed Farming Equipment

Now you know how raised bed farming techniques can help boost your production and your profits. Are you ready to make the switch?

Finding the best commercial raised bed farming equipment does not need to be an expensive guessing game.

Our top of the line products will give you the results you want without costing a fortune.

Contact us today for better yields next season!