Has anybody "restored" land?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Silvercreek Farmer, Jan 16, 2007.

  1. Silvercreek Farmer

    Silvercreek Farmer Living the dream. Supporter

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    It seems there is always a crowd of people looking for land that has never had chemicals used on it. Instead of looking for this "virgin" land, I would feel pretty good about simply returning abused land to organic managment. Is there anyone who feels like they have "restored" land, either contaminated with chemicals or stripped of topsoil? If so, how did you do it? How long did it take?
     
  2. Danaus29

    Danaus29 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Mom's still working on her place, 8 years now. One good thing is to either leave the land fallow or plant some sort of cover crop that you can till in or just leave alone for a few years. Even now Mom still cannot get prairie plants to grow well except in the areas where she has applied litterally tons of compost and chicken manure. She has also been collecting leaves from a nearby small town and dumping those on the gardens. The canadian thistle and the milkweed are growing well.
     

  3. LMonty

    LMonty Well-Known Member

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    good question, I'll be trying to that myself, starting this year. Pasture, anyway, its pretty scraggly. Ive asked the RE agent to get a letter from the seller to tell me the last time chemicals were applied. Not sure if that will help speed up cetficiation or not, but at least it gives me a starting point.
     
  4. Silvercreek Farmer

    Silvercreek Farmer Living the dream. Supporter

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    Not that I know her situation, but I have heard that proper grazing can increase the fertility of land faster than leaving it fallow...
     
  5. Silvercreek Farmer

    Silvercreek Farmer Living the dream. Supporter

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    I read about a fellow that had dump trucks of some sort of industrial organic waste (wood pulp, cotton, or something of the sort) dumped on his land, non stop, for weeks until there was a layer 6-8 inches deep on 80+ acres. Talk about some mulch!
     
  6. Hoosierdaddy

    Hoosierdaddy Well-Known Member

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    My father passed away in the fall of 2001 and my brother and I inherited 40 acres w/ 14 tillable. Neighbor had been farming it for years, land was marginal at best. When we told him we were going to reforest it, he said "good, takes too damn much fertilizer anyway". Worked with the state forester and biologist and came up with a plan for 14,000 assorted trees and shrubs and 2 small parcels in the middle of it all for "warm season grasses". This was in 2003, so it just looks like a weed patch for now, but someday my great, great something or others should have a nice old growth forest. Best part is the USDA farm bill. Paid for half the cost of the trees and seeds and the cost of getting them planted by a commercial planter (planted all the trees and shrubs in 2 days). And on top of that $85.00 / acre for the next 15 years.

    Brett
     
  7. Silvercreek Farmer

    Silvercreek Farmer Living the dream. Supporter

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    Interesting, what did your share of the cost end up at? What happens if you decide to sell the land, or clear it for some reason, do you have to pay it back? How long are you locked into this arrangement. Very interesting...I will have to check into this...
     
  8. Danaus29

    Danaus29 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Mom has 8 acres carved out of a larger farm. Too small for a cow or goat to graze a whole season or two. The peacocks and chickens do graze the areas around the barns but not the one part where she has the most weed problems. Her biggest challenge was getting the garden areas into production. She does get a good crop now but the first few years she got almost nothing. Now if you could find something to eat the dratted thistles but leave the milkweed alone (Monarch caterpillar food) she'ld be happy.
     
  9. Hoosierdaddy

    Hoosierdaddy Well-Known Member

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    Don't recall the final cost as it came out of our "farm account" chackbook which my brother handles. No chance we will be selling, have the original land grant signed by Andrew Jackson, been in the family over 175 years. I'd sell organs to keep it. The program in Indiana is called "crp" check it out!
    Guess I didn't answer your question locked in for the 15 years, then it is ours to do with what we want. Because of reasons stated above, I never looked into the what if we want out?
     
  10. Runners

    Runners A real Quack!

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    We've managed to bring about 10 acres back to reasonable fertility.
    After 18 years of being raped of everything and nothing ever being put back into the soil - all it grew was light green fescue, basically worthless for anything else...

    We plowed everything under, all 1-3" of top soil, revealing hard packed red clay/dirt that was like concrete when it got wet and then dried. We had it limed, then planted buckwheat, clover, hairy vetch (and a few other things), and practically nothing grew.

    We got lots of birds, ducks, turkeys & chickens - they started doing their job, pooping everywhere, and we plowed in spring, planted, plowed in fall and planted.

    The next year, buckwheat started to look pretty good, and we got lots of great honey from the hives. We plowed again.

    Last year, the buckwheat took off, we have large patches of clover like we never had before, and thankfully, we're finally making some headway on the weeds. Seems all those seeds were just waiting for the right conditions, and everything we were doing to the soil to loosen it up and being fertilized with the birds was just what the weeds wanted. Now the clover is taking over, blocking out everything - I think we've turned the corner after 4 years.

    The soil is loosened up tremendously by plowing under all that "green manure" plant material. It actually compresses a little under your feet, instead of feeling like pavement. Each time I've plowed and disked, I see nice black rotted plant material from the previous plowing - and disking mixes it back in.

    Some sections need to be plowed again, and replanted, but it's more because the birds spent too much time in one place. The rest of the recovery process will come slower, but we've come a long way very fast with the bird & green manure combination.