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Using Your Tractor & Crop Talk

Discussion Board - BIG garden soil preparation

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Dean Olson

10-09-2012 15:28:25
98.196.66.64



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I have about 10,000 sq feet of garden. I have a Farmall Super C and a 200. My soil prep is to mold board plow,disc,drag,then plant and cultivate a couple times with the 200. At the end of the season I shred what's left and let is rot down then plow again for the winter. Being in TX I have a weed problem year around so will disc it a couple times in the off season to keep the weeds down. I don't use any chemicals. It's not 100% organic being I use granular fertilizer in my planter and side dresser. Always worked good for me as I enjoy the activity.

Then I met a neighbor over a couple miles and he uses a 6' tiller on a 55 hp JD 4wd. He sprays for weeds and broad casts fertilizer. I suspect that this is probably a 40k rig, any way, he likes what he's doing.

I suspect the real farmers going no till is to minimize the trips over the field to cut costs. I also see a fair amount of spraying going on.

BUT what does it do for/to the soil.

Please express an opinion on whats the best way to prepare the soil for a garden.

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TomA

10-12-2012 16:53:28
64.118.126.168



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 Re: BIG garden soil preparation in reply to Dean Olson, 10-09-2012 15:28:25  
Hard to beat a moldboard plow and harrow. I made the mistake of discing a couple of times last season and lost what little moisture I had.



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scotc

11-17-2012 09:33:40
75.238.58.78



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 Re: BIG garden soil preparation in reply to TomA, 10-12-2012 16:53:28  
Around here when we drilled wheat this fall, the guys who had worked their soil over were seeing more moisture than those who run no-til. And we haven't had any measurable rain since June. Southwest Nebraska.



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Bret4207

10-12-2012 04:40:54
64.19.90.196



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 Re: BIG garden soil preparation in reply to Dean Olson, 10-09-2012 15:28:25  
A disc does compact the soil to a greater or lesser extent. A tiller does too, more or less depending on design. Anytime you put a tractor on your ground you are compacting it. That's just the way it is. The more trips across it, the more it compacts. You can lessen it by making fewer trips and staying completely off it when the ground is damp or wet. Clay is wonderful crop ground, but it's relatively unforgiving of abuse.

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Dean Olson

10-12-2012 07:54:59
98.196.66.64



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 Re: BIG garden soil preparation in reply to Bret4207, 10-12-2012 04:40:54  
This is where you lose me on soil compaction.

I use a disc and or tiller to loosen the soil so I can get the seed in the ground and so seed has an easy time germinating through it.
I use a heavy roller to compact ant mounds in my pasture

At what point during the loosening process does it get compacted??

ALL soil compacts with time and rain.

I don't claim to be Einstein or even close but I sure don't get it.

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cd1

10-12-2012 14:04:08
67.234.196.64



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 Re: BIG garden soil preparation in reply to Dean Olson, 10-12-2012 07:54:59  
Imagine a bucket full of large stones. You fill it. Then you shake it and now the level of stones went down and you can fit more in. That is basically what the plow and disc is doing to your ground I.E. compaction. In a true no-til environment, yes you still have the rain trying to work the air out of the dirt but you have decaying root systems, worms and other organic matter dispersed through the soil all working to keep it mellow. There are some types of ground that no-til will not always work but in many cases it will. Normally it takes a few years for the soil to get stabilized to see the benefits of no-til.

That said, if I was a big gardener I would probably still do tillage just for the sake of easy planting by hand or push-planter. I don't think you are going to find the tiller or plow much ahead of the other on the compaction issue, I myself would have the tiller as it normally leaves a nicer seedbed than plowing and discing and it's only one trip over the field.

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Cue P.

10-12-2012 09:23:45
24.91.179.50



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 Re: BIG garden soil preparation in reply to Dean Olson, 10-12-2012 07:54:59  
The compaction is occuring below the depth that the tiller and/or disc can reach (generally 6-10 inches). This depth is enough for seed germination but eventually plant root structure will be limited to the loose soil only. The loose layer tends to dry out and the roots dry out since they cannot penetrate the compacted soil layer to reach moisture. A "subsoiler" then must be used to get deep tillage and loosen the compacted layer.

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Frankmn

10-11-2012 17:38:48
184.7.172.39



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 Re: BIG garden soil preparation in reply to Dean Olson, 10-09-2012 15:28:25  
I rent 10 acres to some gardeners and I do the tillage. I moldboard plow it in the fall to bury the last summers residue and in the spring I disk it. I then let them use the tractor to re disc or spike tooth drag it as they need to while they plant it. I built them a 2 row cultivator but they haven't mastered that so they still use small tillers for weed control. This is all accomplished with a 48 8N and that is enough seat time by the time it is done.

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Bret4207

10-11-2012 16:37:42
64.19.90.196



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 Re: BIG garden soil preparation in reply to Dean Olson, 10-09-2012 15:28:25  
Well, if I understand what you're asking correctly, you want to know what others with similar sized gardens do, right? You got about a 100' by 100' foot space if it's 10K sq ft. I've used a Gravely rotary plow on that size for years. I've also used a tiller and a horse. The Gravely does the best job overall, but they aren't easy to find and there's no sitting down. The horse did the next best job but that was light, sandy ground and all it took was a few passes with a spring tooth. The tiller does a good job but it's slow as death and doesn't go deep at all. Even my big commercial tiller only goes down about 4-5".
My Amish neighbors do acres of gardens with a plow and harrow and cultivators.

I guess I'm not too clear on what you're asking after all.
This post was edited by Bret4207 at 16:38:32 10/11/12.

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Dean Olson

10-11-2012 17:56:21
98.196.66.64



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 Re: BIG garden soil preparation in reply to Bret4207, 10-11-2012 16:37:42  
I was just curious. I've been cruising the archives and reading different opinions on on soil prep.

As an example some feel discing and rotary tilling compacts the soil. Doesn't make sense to me as I use those tools to loosen up the soil to plant in and give new roots and easy path to grow in.

Newest technology seems to be no till. Which if I'm understanding that correctly incorporates a chisel plow and disc and planter all in one pass.

I'm reading about soil structure, compacting the soil with too many passes over the ground that doesn't leave room for the worms to create paths for water to go down. Getting a pan under what's been tilled and holding water. Then having to run a subsoiler deep to break that up.

My soil is a sandy clay that when rained on forms a crust that new seed won't hardly grow through. If is rains after I plant and before plants come up I have to run a roller/crust buster over it.

If it rains after the plants are up I'm good to go as the crust retains moisture. If it doesn't rain I lose all moisture quickly both up and down.

I don't think I have a problem.

Seems that mold boarding doesn't break up the soil as fine as rotary tilling. I mold board to about 8". I think the disk only goes about 2-3" deep and I plant at about 1-1/2".

Big tiller seems to grind up the top 5-6".

The question was/is what method is best for the soil?

I'm starting the form the opinion that it doesn't matter.

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scotc

11-17-2012 09:38:25
75.238.58.78



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 Re: BIG garden soil preparation in reply to Dean Olson, 10-11-2012 17:56:21  
You are describing zone-til, which just busts up the path the planter will drop the seed in. They do have what they call a 1-tripper, which tils, injects fertilizer, and has the planter behind that. It takes some big iron and flat fields to run that stuff effectively.

No-til is just that, no tillage. The planter cuts through the trash and drops the seed into otherwise undisturbed ground. We still have to run a ripper through it where it is run on a lot to break up the soil. Sometimes fields that used to be flood irrigated or conventional- or full-til need ripped from end to end to break them up.

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Frankmn

10-12-2012 04:27:27
184.7.172.39



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 Re: BIG garden soil preparation in reply to Dean Olson, 10-11-2012 17:56:21  
Roto tilling does give you a nice pulverized soil but on a large area, it is not practical as it is a slow process. Also, you sometimes have to use the equipment you have or as my dad would say, you gotta dance with the girl you got.



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larry@stinescorners

10-10-2012 15:20:23
71.251.38.160



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 Re: BIG garden soil preparation in reply to Dean Olson, 10-09-2012 15:28:25  
Ijust plowed and harrowed where we had a pumpkin patch,then broadcasted rye seed by hand,then lightly harrowed over it . The rye was up in 1 week. I think the cover crop helps my plot



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jackinok

10-10-2012 07:50:35
162.58.82.136



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 Re: BIG garden soil preparation in reply to Dean Olson, 10-09-2012 15:28:25  
do not spray a garden anymore than you have to for insects,many of your crops depend on pollinators. If you do spray do it late of an evening after bees have headed home. for weeds I personally think cultivating is best in a garden,main reason is theres less chance of killing your good plants. it also helps some to conserve moisture.



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Dean Olson

10-10-2012 14:45:36
98.196.66.64



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 Re: BIG garden soil preparation in reply to jackinok, 10-10-2012 07:50:35  
I don't spray anything. I over plant in a big way and rotate so the bugs, critters, and I all have enough.



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rustacres sd

10-10-2012 06:04:20
208.88.136.10



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 Re: BIG garden soil preparation in reply to Dean Olson, 10-09-2012 15:28:25  
I have two seperate gardens. One is 3/8 of an acre and the other is 1/2 acre. I use a 135 MF with a 6' tiller. Ocassionaly (every other year or two) i will take the chisle plow through it to break it up farther down. Need to check with some neighbors to get some manure to work in. would like to work in some oats or wheat straw to help build up the soil. Have only recently started the big gardening. Using grandular fertilizer now and very little to no spraying for bugs.

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randallinMo

10-10-2012 06:00:21
216.74.205.155



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 Re: BIG garden soil preparation in reply to Dean Olson, 10-09-2012 15:28:25  
Your comment, "ALways worked good for me as I enjoy the activity".....pretty much tells it all.
You might consider planting a "cover crop" (rye, wheat, oats, etc.) in the fall which would help with your weed problem in the winter as well as add/build organic matter to your soil. Just disc it up in the spring with your present equipment and you're good to go.



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eldo case

10-10-2012 07:02:44
70.195.2.49



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 Re: BIG garden soil preparation in reply to randallinMo, 10-10-2012 06:00:21  
I agree on the cover crop! Also any compost or rotted manure added will help the soil.



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mazemeister

10-09-2012 17:26:51
24.187.98.163



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 Re: BIG garden soil preparation in reply to Dean Olson, 10-09-2012 15:28:25  
good to question these things, lots of people have a "i've made up my mind, don't confuse me with the facts" attitude about chemicals and tillage. the bottom line is, the soil is such a complex ecosystem and so variable, that the answer is probably different in each zip code, maybe each farm. if it's even possible to draw a definite conclusion.

i (try to) make a living farming, so i make decisions partly on what equipment we have available, what experience has shown to work, and what my education would suggest.

and i end up doing very different things for different crops. and if i farmed a lot more land, i'd do lots of things very differently.

for example, we no-till transplant about 3 acres of pumpkins into killed rye. so from fall of the previous year till spring of the following, zero tillage; the soil is covered. that "should" be a good thing. when i disk in the straw the next spring, the ground is very soft and works up very nicely. but it only works with herbicides.

and transplanting is slooowww.... so it wouldn't work at all for 50 or 100 acres.

so... it depends.

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OH Boy

10-09-2012 16:45:55
174.238.134.149



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 Re: BIG garden soil preparation in reply to Dean Olson, 10-09-2012 15:28:25  
I do it the way you do cause thats the equipment I have to work with.



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