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Discussion Board - Re: BIG garden soil preparation

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Dean Olson

10-12-2012 07:54:59

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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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10-12-2012 14:04:08

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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

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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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