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no till schooling needed


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#1 salty OFFLINE  

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Posted August 17, 2017 - 05:40 PM

I'd like to experiment with no till technique on a small (~ 40 yards square) patch of ground. Cover crops being the key ingredient how does one go about planting them? Simply broadcasting buckwheat, clover, or whatever in standing cover or soil armoured with the remains of the previous cover would seem to ensure no soil contact and no germination. Tilling the residue in wouldn't be no till. What am I missing?

 

Greg


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#2 chieffan OFFLINE  

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Posted August 17, 2017 - 06:50 PM

No till is done with special no-till equipment.  The cover crop, or small seeds like clover, oats, etc. are usually put in with a drill.  This machine has a row of colters that open a narrow shallow furrow and the seeds are drop in from a tube.  Alfalfa is drop on top of the ground as it does not require in ground planting.  For you small an area to plant no till would be difficult to accomplish.  You might want to consider minimum till, where the present material would be mowed or reduced in size and lightly till in.  Then scatter the new seed on top,  pull a harrow over it then a roller.  Here in the Midwest it is real rare to see anything but no till or minimum till any more.  Minimum till is done mostly with a disc to kill out weeds before the planting.  Even the row crops like corn and soybeans are planted no till.  No till planters can run upwards of $5000 per row X 32+ rows.  Used a couple weeks out of a year but can plant over 120+ A. per day.


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#3 Alc ONLINE  

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Posted August 17, 2017 - 08:25 PM

If you do a search for " Rodale Institute " they have good info on no-till , I just watched a video of their cover crop crimper  


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#4 lyall ONLINE  

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Posted August 17, 2017 - 08:59 PM

I had a friend that worked for the US AG department and he said if you go no-till after seven years you need to turn the soil with a plow or chisel plow.

Another friend has a chisel plow and I have him come around seven to chisel plow my 65 x 65 garden.

It help for drainage and brakes the sub-soil.


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#5 dodge trucker ONLINE  

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Posted August 17, 2017 - 09:33 PM

yup. no till does NOT mean to just dump seed on concrete hard ground....


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#6 salty OFFLINE  

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Posted August 17, 2017 - 10:09 PM

Thanks for the detailed answer chieffan. Exactly what I have been wondering about. I've not been exposed to seed drills so I'll have to look at how they differ from something like a Cole seeder. I've been watching videos as Alc suggested and it seems no till is a solution for large scale farming but not as suited to something on the scale of a market garden. I'm going to have a go at it anyway. I've started looking locally for a seeder similar to the old David Brown units. If I can't get through the debris I'll be looking at minimum till.



#7 skyrydr2 OFFLINE  

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Posted August 18, 2017 - 05:22 AM

If you plant a cover crop on a small plot you will have to till it under unless you "burn it down" with either chemicals or fire. The big guys use roundup type stuff then "no till" plant roundup ready crops so they can burn down weeds shortly after emergence.
For the little guy it makes no sense to do this as it is too costly.
Minimum till/maximum mulch is best for a small garden under an acre. It has been a proven method for eyons.
Minimum in equals minimum out! The more you do correctly for your garden the more you will get out of it!
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#8 poncho62 ONLINE  

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Posted August 18, 2017 - 06:20 AM

Interesting subject, but would like to know.....What is the problem with tilling your soil?



#9 chieffan OFFLINE  

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Posted August 18, 2017 - 08:02 AM

Interesting subject, but would like to know.....What is the problem with tilling your soil?

Erosion. Wind and water.


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#10 secondtry OFFLINE  

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Posted August 18, 2017 - 10:59 AM

   Many farmers have found that heavy tilling is not cost effective. The expense is not always justified. Don   


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#11 jimmy G ONLINE  

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Posted August 18, 2017 - 01:49 PM

Erosion. Wind and water.

yep, in days of past tillage was the rule of thumb but the dust bowl fixed that thinking, you can still see it today,dust in the air is soil blown away and muddy water is soil washed away, when the soil is gone and nothing but weeds,sand and rock's are left its roundup and fertilizer to the rescue, who needs good rich black soil anyway, just ask Monsanto, just dont ask ME to eat it,feed it or drink it,having food that taste like something is worth the work and good for us and not cheap death on a plate for those who want more for less, you get what you pay for, mulch and manure will hold tilled soil but it's not the fast easy way, the no till around here is done on fields that have been worked in the past and do well,rocks will break a drill and roots will plug it,if the field hasnt been worked previously then one good tilling will make future no till better seat time and less down time
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#12 salty OFFLINE  

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Posted August 18, 2017 - 03:03 PM

This has turned into quite an education. Some history. I'm lucky enough to have a couple of acres on which to play. Being interested in antique machinery and garden tractors(!) that bit of land lets me put my interests to work. So three or four years ago I pulled a plow through ground that had been left in weeds and grass for twenty odd years. I'm still working at getting the worst of the rocks and roots that plowing brought to the surface out. Not wanting to put up fencing garlic was planted as a deer resistant experiment. Encouraged by moderate success I've been breaking a bit more ground and adding a crop or two each year. During this same period my wife has been building a vegetable garden. In contrast to "my" field "her" beds have been painstakingly built of compost, leaves, seaweed, ashes, sifted soil, etc.. We plant some of the same crops from the same stock at the same time each year. The difference has been eye opening. My garlic is golfball size, hers baseball. My corn is getting towards 4' tall, hers is passing 10'. Potatoes same story. I've cast a critical eye on the soil in the field. It's mud in winter, cement in summer. Under a thick layer of mulch hers seems perfect all the time regardless of season or weather. I've decided to add organic material to the field soil which led me to cover crops and the idea of no till. The mechanics of how to accomplish no till on a small scale is what prompted my post here. Thanks to everyone for your input. I think plowing and cultivating will likely remain necessary for extracting debris and flattening new ground but no till seems ultimately like a better idea and I'll be working towards that goal - with some help from the walk behinds  :-)


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#13 MH81 OFFLINE  

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Posted August 18, 2017 - 09:07 PM

A cover crop can still be plowed under. And it doesn't need to be a foot down, either.
Just enough to roll the trash under where it becomes organic material for the crop.

Just a thought.
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#14 Alc ONLINE  

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Posted August 19, 2017 - 06:40 AM

My soil and yours seem to be the same . Mine looks great after being worked , plowed , tilled ect but after a few rains it's as hard as a rock . Then if you have row crops like beans that you have to pick every few days you pack the soil down even harder . I've tried what I guess might be called limited till by tilling wide rows through the rye cover crop , wasn't happy with that because the rye didn't hold up to foot traffic , still have to weed the wide rows , maybe there plastic row covers would have been better used ? Though I still do something like that in my lower garden 80' x 30', the beans are planted in a long row next to the yard , spring oats then 2 long rows of potatoes and spring oats the rest of the way, I didn't have to go though the potatoes other then hilling a few times then when it was time to dig them up  . I've been trying to improve the soil in this section for a few years by planting cover crops and cutting them for the row areas like where the potatoes were planted . The hard part for me is theres never enough organic matter to make big changes , just a little better at a time.


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#15 Mustard Tiger ONLINE  

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Posted September 02, 2017 - 09:19 PM

I would reconsider the belief that cover crops are the key ingredient.  With the size you are talking you want to be looking at no dig gardening methods, not large scale no till farming methods which are generally herbicide heavy and require special equipment.  The common element of no dig gardening is heavy mulching.  It doesn't really seem to matter what you use, everyone swears by something different but anything from wood chips to leaves to compost seems to work fine.  Check out Charles Dowding's videos on youtube, he's got a lot of good info on what's worked out for him.






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