Plowing new corn field question...

Discussion in 'Gardening & Plant Propagation' started by Ravenlost, Sep 22, 2004.

  1. Ravenlost

    Ravenlost Well-Known Member Supporter

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    My husband and I are going round and round about this. We plan to plant about four acres in corn, peas and pumpkins next year. This acreage has been in hay for about five years.

    Here's the problem:

    ME - we need to plow it under this Fall.

    HIM - what for?

    ME - we need a plow!

    HIM - plans to use his box blade (with teeth set at the lowest point) to "break it up" and then use the disc to finish it.

    ME - THAT WON'T WORK!

    HIM - WHY NOT?

    ME - ARGGGGGGGGGG...

    Who is right, me or him? Doesn't it need to be turned under with a PLOW this Fall if we plan to grow anything other than grass on it next Spring?
     
  2. doc623

    doc623 Well-Known Member

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    There are several good reasons for plowing a new field.
    If it is done as your husband suggests the yield will not be as good and etc.
    Alot of split sod planting/no til planting is done.
    However this ususally involves the application of very strong chemical to kill the
    existing vegetation/exisiting cover/plants. Not a good idea for a lot of reasons.
    The soil needs to be turned.
     

  3. Ravenlost

    Ravenlost Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Thank you! If I get my way (and I am bound and determined to) there will be no chemicals or poisons used on even a single inch of this property.
     
  4. poorme

    poorme Well-Known Member

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    what kind of slope you got there? near a stream, etc? soil erosion isn't good for mother earth either.
     
  5. Cyngbaeld

    Cyngbaeld In Remembrance Supporter

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    Maybe just dump some of that free sawdust all over it this fall. Leave it set till spring or plant a cover crop in it and till everything in in spring a couple weeks prior to planting. You will need to mow the grass close to the ground before applying several inches of sawdust.
     
  6. Ravenlost

    Ravenlost Well-Known Member Supporter

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    No slope...flat as a pancake. No erosion problem at all. Just lots and lots of grass and weeds.

    Hmmmm...I could have several loads of that free sawdust dumped on it! I do think we need a plow for the tractor. The only implements we have are a disc, a boxblade and a bushhog. My dad said we needed an all-in-one tiller for the tractor. Anyone know what he's talking about?
     
  7. poorme

    poorme Well-Known Member

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    i imagine the all in one tiller is like a rototiller??

    anyway, don't put down sawdust! its decomposition will absorb all of the soil nitrogen, which corn needs a ton of. growing corn organically is a HUGE pain in the rear...are you sure you want to do it? corn is usually followed by soybeans or alfalfa, which build up nitrogen in the soil.

    without commercial fertilizer, your yields are going to be horrible.

    not to mention all the weeds! :eek:
     
  8. Ravenlost

    Ravenlost Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Yup, I expect yields to be low the first year. I plan to rotate every three years with peas and alfalfa. I also expect to have plenty of organic fertilizer courtesy of five horses, ten head of cattle and a half dozen chickens, plus compost.

    Good point about the sawdust. Guess we just need to buy a plow! :p
     
  9. Marcia in MT

    Marcia in MT Well-Known Member Supporter

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    If you till/rough plow the field now, in the fall, the soil life will have a longer time to break down all the cellulose material in the haystalks, etc. The soil will stay warm longer than the air in the fall -- just the opposite in the spring. While the soil is colder than the air, it will take the soil life longer to reproduce and become as active as they are now, so stuff takes longer to break down.

    As for sawdust, it will indeed bind up N until the microbes using it die. Either till it in now, or do it in the spring and add extra N in some form or another. It might be a good idea to add a little now if you do sawdust now, but not too much. Not only can it burn the soil life in excessive amounts (in chemical form), but it's expensive and leaches fairly easily.
     
  10. uncle Will in In.

    uncle Will in In. Well-Known Member Supporter

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    There are two ways to get rid of the grass. What your husband wants to do is not one of them. You can either spray it with herbicice and kill it, or you can turn it under with a moldboard plow. It works best to turn it under in the fall so the sod and weeds will be pretty well rotted in time for spring planting. They will add humus and fertility to the ground that will do a lot for the corn. If he tears it up and discs it up the little clumps of grass will come back up in the corn. I guess by fall the corn stalks would make good pasture with all that grass growing in them.
     
  11. Ravenlost

    Ravenlost Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Thanks Uncle Will. May I quote you when he asks me YET AGAIN why I think we should plow in the Fall?

    Marcia...we're not planning to use the sawdust on the corn field. Plans for the sawdust are to put around trees and in flowerbeds as mulch and on paths. We may use some in the horse stalls. I'm not real sure about that yet.
     
  12. doc623

    doc623 Well-Known Member

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    Do not use saw dust or shavings as it will take 1-5 years to be useful and not bind the nitrogen or screw up to acidic levels of the land.
    Check with your local ag or usda office for the benefits for plowing.
    I am of the opinion that the soil needs to be turned.
    You need to rotate crops.
    You could plow and plant a cover crop for the winter and till under in the spring
    to add nitrogen in the spring - i.e., winter wheat.
    The soil needs to be areiated.
    The soil need to breathe.
    The wildlife could clean up some of the grubs.
    Your father- in -law may be referring to a pto rototiller which should be used after plowing and discing.
    Lost part of my thread.
    The current crop will add more than nitrogen to the soil.
    There is no reason not to plow.
    Look at the successful farmers in your area that do not use notil farming.
    You can add manure to the plot which will be disced into the soil in the spring
    There will be less unwanted plants - weeds- in the spring and wil be more efficient and more cost effective.
    I can gon on and on if need more infor.
    More info is available from your county extention or your usds office.
    But what do I know - 2 agri degrees in the last 40+ years of experience.
    Just my .02 cents worth.
    Need mor suggestions, I'll be around
    Doc
     
  13. Ravenlost

    Ravenlost Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Thanks Doc. I'll take the advice from 40+ years of experience over the local county extension office which has been less than helpful so far.

    I know we need to plow this Fall. I grew up on a farm. My mama and daddy both grew up on farms. My husband was an Air Force brat. He has never planted a seed of any kind, well except for spreading grass seed on his suburban lawn.

    I may just let him do it his way this year and see how things turn out. Experience is the best teacher, right?

    :p
     
  14. doc623

    doc623 Well-Known Member

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    Or you could run two experimental plots. One or part of the field plowed and one part not plowed as a compromise and to see what would work best in your area - to demonstrate to him.
     
  15. Ravenlost

    Ravenlost Well-Known Member Supporter

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    One field done my way, errr the RIGHT way and one field done the wrong, I mean, HIS way?

    I like that idea! :p
     
  16. 3girls

    3girls Well-Known Member

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    Please understand that in this case I don't know much about this. I did some raised beds this way and Louis Bromfield also did his farm restorations this way. Harrow or till, disc well, then sow with winter rye and Austrian Peas. In the spring, mow it and chop all into the soil. Wait two to three weeks, and plant. The winter rye has an allelopathic effect on weeds and grass, and the peas add nitrogen to the soil. The rye "ate" the quack grass in my raised beds in Western WA. That is a BIG deal. The only thing on a par with blackberries is the quack grass.

    Another thing to consider is to pasture hogs for the first year. Sell or butcher in the fall and do the above planting. Stand back. No, I have NOT tried this. I'd do it here, but I'd probably run into some flack from those who just don't understand. :D :haha: :D

    Sandi
     
  17. Ravenlost

    Ravenlost Well-Known Member Supporter

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    That's another thing I can't convince my husband is a good idea...hogs!
     
  18. 3girls

    3girls Well-Known Member

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    If you can, find one of Louis Bromfields books wherein he has written a chapter, "Hymn to Hawgs" I found the old books, by having a venerable book store to a nationwide search for them. I have all four of his farming books. I do NOT lend these out. There is a reprint of some of the articles in a modern book, assembled by George DeVault. I do not know what chapters he included.

    Sandi
     
  19. dla

    dla Well-Known Member

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    Around here (in Maryland) we use round-up and no-till planting methods. I know folks are sometimes anti-chemical, but consider this...
    Putting anything on the soil which doesn't allow air to get in is just like laying black plastic on the soil in that it kills everything. So at least round-up won't wipe out the good bacteria and worms and whatnot. (Also won't get rid of any grubs either, tho)
    Dead/decaying plants decompose/enrich the soil and actually serve as a ground mulch while they do.
    You have to do this now so that the most active decomposition is not still taking place while your plants are trying to grow (and compete for nitrogen).

    Turning the soil is so satisfying, but around here it is a great way to throw away half your top-soil in short order. (Can you say "Rolling Hills?" :rolleyes: )

    Is is also very low cost from an equiptment/time standpoint.

    But it only works when things are growing, which is why NOW is the time if you would consider it.

    Any thoughts, folks?
     
  20. poorme

    poorme Well-Known Member

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    personally i'd go your way. if you can find someone with a no-till planter.