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#2999952 - 10/26/12 08:55 AM Ridge top plots
richmanbarbeque
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Here is two ridge top plots that have taken a few years to get going. This year they are showing better results and have seen deer in both. hopefully they will be even better next year.

What have you done to get good ridge top plots?

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#2999987 - 10/26/12 09:17 AM Re: Ridge top plots [Re: richmanbarbeque]
eyeseeker
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Mine look very similar to yours. Every year i spray gly in the summer to kill down expansion area and i cut out trees and brush after season ends. I have cut and removed ( for firewood) all of the non oak trees i can adjacent to the plots to get them more sun and reduce the leaf fall onto them. I have tried liming them but spreading lime from the back of a trailer with a shovel....not sure how effective i have been.
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#3000110 - 10/26/12 10:26 AM Re: Ridge top plots [Re: eyeseeker]
smstone22
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Lime, organic matter buildup, very very limited disking, proper crop rotations, hand rock removal, high biomass summer crops. Thats a few I can think of.
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#3000456 - 10/26/12 02:50 PM Re: Ridge top plots [Re: smstone22]
Quailman
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What Steven said. Try to stay away from annual tillage. You've got to give the soil time to build up an organic layer. It will take a while on those ridgetop plots.
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#3000474 - 10/26/12 03:06 PM Re: Ridge top plots [Re: Quailman]
richmanbarbeque
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 Originally Posted By: Quailman
What Steven said. Try to stay away from annual tillage. You've got to give the soil time to build up an organic layer. It will take a while on those ridgetop plots.


Especially when you have rocks for soil.

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#3000855 - 10/26/12 07:31 PM Re: Ridge top plots [Re: richmanbarbeque]
catman529
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I was just gonna say eyeseeker's plots look a lot like yours, even the trees look the same. they are some nice looking plots, turkeys love em too
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#3001110 - 10/26/12 10:05 PM Re: Ridge top plots [Re: catman529]
eyeseeker
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And i do basically the above except i do disc every year for planting. Hand picking rocks is important...but i dont do summer plantings....deer just eat it before it has a chance so i leave it to natural weeds and forbs.
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#3001284 - 10/27/12 07:19 AM Re: Ridge top plots [Re: eyeseeker]
BSK
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Much depends on the soil conditions of your particular ridge-tops. But in loamy-clay with a lot of chert, I have to strongly disagree with those who say to limit tillage. Absolutely the very best thing we have ever done for our ridge-top plots is to increase their ability to hold moisture through chisel-plowing as deep as possible, and then removing as much rock as you can. Without the tillage, those soils simply won't absorb or hold moisture. Biomass build-up is also critical to holding moisture.
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#3001386 - 10/27/12 08:36 AM Re: Ridge top plots [Re: BSK]
richmanbarbeque
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Thanks everyone. I think this is a good topic for most of us with rocks for soil. I had Justin run a chisel plow thru it the past couple years and hopefully it's helped
(I think it's starting too). I have winter wheat and clover in there and in march or so I will till the standing wheat in and let the green matter mix with with the dirt.

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#3003926 - 10/28/12 05:31 PM Re: Ridge top plots [Re: richmanbarbeque]
Football Hunter
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Be lucky,and have good dirt like me \:\)
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#3003973 - 10/28/12 05:56 PM Re: Ridge top plots [Re: Football Hunter]
8 POINTS OR BETTER
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Plant them in Crimson and Arrow-leaf clove. Mow the around July 10th and spray them gly. Lightly disk before Aug 1. to get last years seed to germinate and you will be surprised how much it builds the soil in five years.
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#3004053 - 10/28/12 06:44 PM Re: Ridge top plots [Re: 8 POINTS OR BETTER]
eyeseeker
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Is it better to til in the wheat while it is green or do you get the same effect from just tilling in the straw? I usually plant it in conjunction with crimson clover and have had great success with dragging the wheat and clover down and allowing the crimson to resprout...it then usually last the remainder of the summer and provides a forage the deer cannot decimate.
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#3005889 - 10/29/12 02:03 PM Re: Ridge top plots [Re: BSK]
Quailman
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 Originally Posted By: BSK
But in loamy-clay with a lot of chert, I have to strongly disagree with those who say to limit tillage. Absolutely the very best thing we have ever done for our ridge-top plots is to increase their ability to hold moisture through chisel-plowing as deep as possible, and then removing as much rock as you can. Without the tillage, those soils simply won't absorb or hold moisture. Biomass build-up is also critical to holding moisture.


BSK,

Tillage may help initially (in your situation) with breaking up soil compaction and improving water infiltration, but over time, tillage on a continual basis will only decrease soil health. You will actually degrade organic matter, disrupt biological activity, and decrease water infiltration. It has been proven time and time again. We even have a mobile rainfall simulator that we use to prove this point. We can look at water infiltation for various cropping systems (conventional, no-till, minimum till, permanent grass (both introduced and natives), etc. You would be amazed at the results over a short period of time. The conventional tillage scenario has the poorest water infiltration of any system hands down. Our test results showed that the majority of water in conventional cropping systems merely runs off the surface.
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#3006051 - 10/29/12 03:26 PM Re: Ridge top plots [Re: Quailman]
BSK
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You may very well be right over time Quailman. However, after 4 years of annual fall chisel-plowing, our soils just keep getting better and better, retaining more moisture than they ever have. But there may be a "turning point" where continued tillage causes problems.

Before we started the chisel-plowing, a hard rain wouldn't soak more than an inch into the soil. Now we see good soil moisture 4-6 inches deep after even a moderate rain. But again, there may be a turning point where the tillage causes problems. That will be something we will have to watch closely.

What would be the symptoms of over tillage?
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#3006666 - 10/29/12 09:13 PM Re: Ridge top plots [Re: BSK]
eyeseeker
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Wouldnt water infiltration also be affected by hardpan underneath or lack thereof? Chisel plowing should reduce the formation of hardpan under the soil that you can get from always discing to the same depth as the chisel will continually seek to go deeper and it rips the soil instead of cutting it right? I have been experiencing the same results as BSK as far as soil improvement year after year and I know that it has alot to do with tilage. One big plot that i am continually expanding shows dramatic differences in growth based on the amount it has been turned over. The original section is growing gangbusters and the middle(turned first time 2years ago) is considerably less vigorous with this years cleared section struggling altogether. All were planted same rate same time same amount of fert same amount of sun etc. the only thing it could possible be other than tillage is N. i know that tilling a new plot will move alot of organic material into the soil which can tie up N as it breaks down, but as BSK said the moisture content of the soil is different also. I had to wait to till the plot from when i had originally planned because I would have just been making mud clumps that would not have broken apart and would have been creating hardpan underneath.....the new section was turning over beautiful and fluffy because it wasnt as moist to depth.
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#3008315 - 10/30/12 09:22 PM Re: Ridge top plots [Re: BSK]
Quailman
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 Originally Posted By: BSK
What would be the symptoms of over tillage?


BSK, I worked all day today with my soil scientist, and we had a chance to discuss this topic. I mentioned to him the soil types you are working with, and of course, he is familiar with your area. Basically he told me that the potential problems I mentioned were correct in regards to continual tillage.

Also, as far as additional issues over time, he said annual tillage will bring additional rocks towards the upper part of the soil profile, which inhibits water infiltration. He also mentioned that additional problems you may encounter would include a tillage pan, soil erosion, weathering, excessive leaching of nutrients, and of course decreased organic matter that is extremely critical for retaining moisture.

One of the biggest problems encountered during the summer is moisture retention in conventional tillage situations. We ran some tests this past summer with temperature probes on tilled vs. no-till soils. During the hotter parts of the summer when air temps exceeded 95 degrees, actual soil temps on tilled ground exceeded 110 degrees due to a lack of residue. As a comparison, a hay field adjacent to the site had a soil temp of 78 degrees. What's important to know is that once soil temps exceed 90 degrees, about 90%+ of moisture is lost due to evaporation. So even though you may think you are getting adequate rainfall, it leaves the system very quickly and is not useable by plants.

I know the soil types you are working with because I've seen them a thousand times, so I would just caution you on your current cropping system. I would seriously think about at least going to a longer rotation before any type of tillage is initiated. Just something to think about.
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#3008509 - 10/31/12 05:03 AM Re: Ridge top plots [Re: Quailman]
richmanbarbeque
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This has turned into a very informative thread.
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#3008744 - 10/31/12 08:17 AM Re: Ridge top plots [Re: richmanbarbeque]
Bayou Buck
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I remember some of the plots on the Kentucky Proving Grounds that Grant Woods is managing was chiseled and he mentioned that if you are in a hard clay area or have a solid hardpan in your plots, he recommends you intiailly break the hardpan and then only no-till. This will allow greater moisture retention due to less compaction and more organic matter. They used a heavy chisel device pulled by a dozer to break the soil over there.
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#3008753 - 10/31/12 08:21 AM Re: Ridge top plots [Re: richmanbarbeque]
BSK
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 Originally Posted By: richmanbarbeque
This has turned into a very informative thread.


ABSOLUTELY!

Quailman,

Any further information on this topic would be HIGHLY appreciated.

Currently, we do not plant any summer crops, simply because they cannot survive the hot, dry summers. We current chisel in late fall and broadcast-seed cereal grains (wheat) and annual clovers (crimson and arrowleaf) that will last until early July. Plots are left fallow through the remainder of the summer.

How would we plant in fall without breaking ground? A grain drill will not penetrate the ground's surface.
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#3008830 - 10/31/12 08:58 AM Re: Ridge top plots [Re: richmanbarbeque]
Andy S.
TnDeer Old Timer
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 Originally Posted By: richmanbarbeque
This has turned into a very informative thread.
x2
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#3009572 - 10/31/12 04:29 PM Re: Ridge top plots [Re: BSK]
Quailman
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 Originally Posted By: BSK
How would we plant in fall without breaking ground? A grain drill will not penetrate the ground's surface.


Glad you asked!! It just so happens that I have been experimenting over the last month with a couple of scenarios for planting fall plots without tillage and without no-till planters.

It will take me a few days to get some pics and explain what I did, but so far the results have been very promising.
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#3009584 - 10/31/12 04:42 PM Re: Ridge top plots [Re: Quailman]
BSK
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Sounds fascinating Quailman. Can't wait to hear more about it.

For years we just broadcast seed right onto unbroken ground. It worked--sort of. The smaller the seed, the better the germination (such as clover or brassicas), but anything with a seed larger than a cereal grain experienced very low germination rates.
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#3009595 - 10/31/12 04:58 PM Re: Ridge top plots [Re: BSK]
smstone22
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I have a dandy plot this year that was done by letting the weeds get up to about 3-4 feet high and thick, broadcasting my seed into the living vegetation(without any mowing), then applying a high volume of 2 qt/acre of glyphosate on the high weeds. Weeds die down on top of seed, provides mulch, helps with moisture retention, etc. I call it the dirty plot.
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#3009602 - 10/31/12 05:13 PM Re: Ridge top plots [Re: smstone22]
BSK
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Interesting smstone22. I wonder if it would work with grasses, as my plots often fill in with a dense growth of foxtail in late summer.
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#3009608 - 10/31/12 05:19 PM Re: Ridge top plots [Re: BSK]
smstone22
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I dont see why not as long as you kill them but my situation is mostly broadleaf weeds. It just takes more water in the sprayer to get good coverage. Another advantage to doing it this way is that with all of that mess in the field and mess falling down on the seeds it makes it alot harder for turkey to steal very much seed because it is well hidden unlike in a mowing situation.
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#3009756 - 10/31/12 07:42 PM Re: Ridge top plots [Re: smstone22]
Football Hunter
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 Originally Posted By: smstone22
I dont see why not as long as you kill them but my situation is mostly broadleaf weeds. It just takes more water in the sprayer to get good coverage. Another advantage to doing it this way is that with all of that mess in the field and mess falling down on the seeds it makes it alot harder for turkey to steal very much seed because it is well hidden unlike in a mowing situation.
That sounds like a good plan,most of my stuff is grasses too.Hate feeding turkeys.
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#3010121 - 11/01/12 05:06 AM Re: Ridge top plots [Re: Football Hunter]
richmanbarbeque
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Some of my past best plots have been from a harrow on the 4-wheeler just scratching the ground. I have also done several plots with success like Steven suggested. Sometimes the less equipment we have the better.

On my place before any tilling and mowing I had vey little invasives in my plots. I find I have more unwanted grasses than ever before. I have thought about going back to the way I started. The last few years I have my dirt chiseled so I might just start leaving it alone.

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#3010179 - 11/01/12 06:14 AM Re: Ridge top plots [Re: richmanbarbeque]
BSK
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My major concern with not breaking ground is root growth. When the ground is not broken, roots can't penetrate beyond just the surface.
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#3010412 - 11/01/12 08:40 AM Re: Ridge top plots [Re: BSK]
Bayou Buck
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 Originally Posted By: BSK
My major concern with not breaking ground is root growth. When the ground is not broken, roots can't penetrate beyond just the surface.


One thing that can help with this is mixing some forage radishes and other brassica with long roots into your seed mix. The roots generally work there way below the bulb fracturing the soil.

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#3010768 - 11/01/12 11:56 AM Re: Ridge top plots [Re: Bayou Buck]
BSK
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Not only do brassica/turnip/radish bulbs grow UP out of the ground in my plots, their tap root runs horizontally 4-feet sideways an inch under the surface!
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#3010897 - 11/01/12 01:06 PM Re: Ridge top plots [Re: BSK]
Quailman
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I did a little testing at my house over the last month or so on how to have a successful cool seaon plot without tillage and without large equipment that most landowners don't have access to or can afford.

We purchased a 5 foot cultipacker last year to put in some demo plots, so I decided to see how well it would work from a no-till standpoint.

This first pic is behind my house on a ridgetop. very shallow soil with a lot of rock. Initial pH of 5.3. I seeded it last fall with a perennial clover mix, but it did poorly due to low fertility. I have been applying lime and fertilizer and decided to overseed this plot to see if I could improve the stand. It was mostly dominated with native weeds and grasses, and some remnant clover, so I decided not to spray. I simply mowed the plot, waited until it rained so there would be soil moisture, broadcast the seed, and then cultipacked. This plot looked really good until the leaves started to fall and covered a lot of it. But, it is still doing well. FYI, it was seeded with crimson, durana, ladino, and winter wheat.



Another pic of samd plot.



Another plot I did was actually my garden plot. I wanted to try a cool season cover crop on it until next year. Initial pH of 5.3, lime and fertilizer added last Spring. For this plot, I did spray with Glyphosate to get a good burn down. I then waited for rain, and broadcast the seed about 3 days later. I then used the cultipacker to get good seed to soil contact. FYI, the seed actually germinated very well before we had the next rain event. Right now it is doing well. Also, this is somewhat poor soil that had never been tilled until this past Spring. I actually removed eight 5-gallon buckets of rocks from this plot before I planted earlier this year. It was planted to a simple mix of crimson clover and winter wheat.



The cultipacker is the key to making this work. You have to get seed to soil contact or germination will be poor.

The other plot I have is on my farm in Illinois. Right now, the clover is about 2 feet high and was established in a manner similar to what Steven Stone mentioned. No tillage, just burn down with Glyphosate and let the dead residue protect the seed until it germinates.

I also have a new video produced by NRCS on soil health that just came out the other day. I have been trying to find time to watch it in its entirety (28 minutes), and when I do, I will provide a link on here so you can see it as well. Fascinating stuff!!
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#3010906 - 11/01/12 01:11 PM Re: Ridge top plots [Re: Quailman]
BSK
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Great stuff Quailman! So you believe that the cultipackers is the key?

I'm going to have to try this method in a couple of plots as an experiment.

What would you recommend for plots that fill in with heavy grass growth (thigh-high foxtail and chest-high Johnsongrass) in late summer? Would you glysophate before seeding? At seeding? Not glysophate? Mow or not not mow after seeding?

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#3010973 - 11/01/12 01:53 PM Re: Ridge top plots [Re: BSK]
Quailman
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Yes, the cultipacker is the key. Simply broadcasting seed on top of the ground will have poor results in many instances. We bought a Tufline ATV cultipacker. It actually has a 52" cutting width. However, it takes a very powerful ATV to pull it becuase it is very heavy. I pulled it with a Grizzly 660 and it was a load! If I had a choice, I would pull it with a tractor, and I probably will on my home farm next year.

If you have heavy grass growth, especially foxtail and johnsongrass, I would mow and spray prior to seeding, at least 2 weeks if it's johnsongrass.

Another thing to remember about johnsongrass is that it reproduces from rhizomes, so any tillage where johnsongrass is growing will only make your problems worse.
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#3010978 - 11/01/12 01:56 PM Re: Ridge top plots [Re: Quailman]
BSK
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 Originally Posted By: Quailman
Another thing to remember about johnsongrass is that it reproduces from rhizomes, so any tillage where johnsongrass is growing will only make your problems worse.


That I HAVE noticed! The stuff is definitely spreading within the one field where it occurs.
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#3011002 - 11/01/12 02:06 PM Re: Ridge top plots [Re: Quailman]
BSK
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 Originally Posted By: Quailman
If you have heavy grass growth, especially foxtail and johnsongrass, I would mow and spray prior to seeding, at least 2 weeks if it's johnsongrass.


What would you do with the very thick thatch is produced by mowing these tall grasses (if anything)? I know that thatch can prevent soil moisture loss, but I worry broadcast seeds wouldn't penetrate down to ground surface through the thatch or newly germinating plants be able to grow up through the thatch.
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#3011008 - 11/01/12 02:09 PM Re: Ridge top plots [Re: BSK]
Football Hunter
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 Originally Posted By: BSK
 Originally Posted By: Quailman
If you have heavy grass growth, especially foxtail and johnsongrass, I would mow and spray prior to seeding, at least 2 weeks if it's johnsongrass.


What would you do with the very thick thatch is produced by mowing these tall grasses (if anything)? I know that thatch can prevent soil moisture loss, but I worry broadcast seeds wouldn't penetrate down to ground surface through the thatch or newly germinating plants be able to grow up through the thatch.
Wont a good rain take care of that?
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#3011280 - 11/01/12 05:09 PM Re: Ridge top plots [Re: Football Hunter]
BSK
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 Originally Posted By: Football Hunter
 Originally Posted By: BSK
 Originally Posted By: Quailman
If you have heavy grass growth, especially foxtail and johnsongrass, I would mow and spray prior to seeding, at least 2 weeks if it's johnsongrass.


What would you do with the very thick thatch is produced by mowing these tall grasses (if anything)? I know that thatch can prevent soil moisture loss, but I worry broadcast seeds wouldn't penetrate down to ground surface through the thatch or newly germinating plants be able to grow up through the thatch.
Wont a good rain take care of that?


How's that?
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#3011901 - 11/01/12 10:28 PM Re: Ridge top plots [Re: BSK]
jmb4wd
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Ive been following this thread closely, although I have'nt posted till now.

Having worked on RMBBQ and BSK's tracts I understand where both are coming from, and I also understand Quailmans's points as well.

As far as an erosion stand point, and the lose of top soil on ridgetops, I feel that once a year chiseling (or some tillage) is almost essential if you are planting a warm season annual. Yes you get weeds and unwanted plants, but you have to provide a seed bed, so that you get good seed to soil contact. I have found in all the places Ive worked that if you dont get seed on the dirt, rarely does it establish roots that take hold.
I feel to that on these ridgetops, where we are trying to grow plants, 90% of them were never meant to grow these type crops, so be successful we have to use measures such as tillage, to give them a chance. Once yearly would be my suggestion, especially if you are going to plant a yearly rotation of annuals.
We must also remember that we are more than likely just breaking the crust, and busting up thatch. I cant imaging wasting seed and or fertilizer on some of BSK's Powerline plots, with the amount of thatch that piles up after one summer! I bet he would agree with me on that one! We are not sub-soiling these areas at depths of of 12 inches or greater or providing a powder like seed bed. I tell most of my clients that its going to be ugly when I get done! Its not going to look like Dream Season's plots or The Lakoski's farms in Iowa!
On those farms they disc and disc and disc some more and till its dust, and they do it twice a year, spring and fall!!!

Fall annual crops are alot more forgiving, and as Steven and Quailman, and RMBBQ have showed us, by spraying and seeding before a good rain, and/or culitpacking, you can achieve awesome plots.

I would have to say this has been a wonderful thread, and Im glad so many guys have chimed in as Ive learned alot!
_________________________
http://www.backacrefoodplots.blogspot.com

Food Plot Establishment and Maintenance


Justin

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#3012135 - 11/02/12 07:12 AM Re: Ridge top plots [Re: jmb4wd]
BSK
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Our power-line food plots grow a pretty amazing crop of tall grasses. Once those plots are mowed in late summer, the thatch is VERY thick. Now our plots that are not in power-line right-of-ways don't see anywhere near the grass growth, and thatch is not as much of a problem.

If these power-line plots were mowed more frequently, or hit hard with grass killers in summer, could this reduce the fall thatch?

As jmb4wd noted, we are only breaking the soil down about 4-6 inches with the chisel. But what never ceases to amaze me is how those soils recompact in a single year. Each year, the soil is just as hard to break. This year, we had not had rain in several weeks when we attemted to chisel, and the chisel could barely scratch the surface. The ground was hard as concrete, just like almost every year, even after four straight years of chiseling in fall. Now a good rain and even a disk can bite in a little. But no rain and that soil is back to concrete.
_________________________
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#3012777 - 11/02/12 01:53 PM Re: Ridge top plots [Re: BSK]
Quailman
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Registered: 08/04/03
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 Originally Posted By: BSK
If these power-line plots were mowed more frequently, or hit hard with grass killers in summer, could this reduce the fall thatch?


Yes, that is exactly what I would recommend. I would mow more frequently (as needed) and spray with a grass selective herbicide until I had the grass issue under control. Once the grass is under control, only mow as needed to reduce competition, because remember, frequent mowing will encourage grasses as opposed to broadleaf plants. If I wanted to rennovate and re-plant and was dealing with grasses such as johnsograss, crabgrass, and foxtail. I would probably have to look at spraying twice prior to re-planting to a cool season plot.

I provided a link to the NRCS video on soil health. This is one of several that has come out recently on this subject. It's just really fascinating to me, and I've actually had the pleasure of listening to Dr. Archuleta in person when he came to TN this past year. Even though it discusses soil health from a farming standpoint, there are some key points that will really make you think about your current food plot management.

Justin, I think this may give you some ideas for the future since you have access to some top quality equipment!

FYI, this video is 28 minutes in length.

NRCS Soil Health
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#3020989 - 11/07/12 10:36 AM Re: Ridge top plots [Re: Quailman]
BSK
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Thanks Quailman, I'll watch the video. And thanks for the recommendations on the grass problem in our power-line plots.
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"There is no reasoning someone out of a position he has not reasoned himself into." --Clive James

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#3021025 - 11/07/12 10:45 AM Re: Ridge top plots [Re: Quailman]
String Music
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Here in East Tn, annual tillage is soil suicide. Instead, we have relied on groundhog radishes to break the hardpan and allow water to penetrate. I have been impressed with the production we have seen from this type of radish. I would highly recommend implementing this seed into your fall plots.

http://www.ampacseed.com/groundhog.htm


Edited by String Music (11/07/12 10:46 AM)
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#3021070 - 11/07/12 11:07 AM Re: Ridge top plots [Re: Quailman]
BlountArrow
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Registered: 07/13/12
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Quail or those in the know,
I have approx 1-1/4 acre food plot that I had hoped to get established this year. A lot of things prevented that but the Johnson Grass literally got to the heighth that while on a 56hp tractor was head high and taller - it was like mowing into an abyss. I mowed it and the layer of thatch produced was insane of course. I sprayed it with Glyphosate...it didn't really kill it. But, I was able to burn a good bit of the thatch off anyways. So, I sprayed it again hoping to burn the Johnson grass off for good and the second spraying killed it pretty well, but I never got a chance to burn again. Johnson grass is just incredibly resiliant. I still don't think I have conquered it yet. I'm going to try to sew some wheat into the ground this week and just see what happens. Do you think it is possible to choke at the Johnson grass because I really don't think it is truly dead and gone and I'm afraid next Spring it is just going to come back.
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#3024163 - 11/08/12 10:29 PM Re: Ridge top plots [Re: Football Hunter]
BT1
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I have been doing research on this very topic that Quailman has discussed for 18 months and the results are truly amazing to say the least. I used a slightly different planting method but still the same principals. I met a person through a mutual friend who wished to establish wildlife on his property. He was willing to let me plant anything I wanted as long as it didn't cost him a thing. He is not a deer hunter, so I agreed as long as he understood that I would not be fertilizing the cropped areas only applying lime (and I could hunt). My mission was simple, find the most efficient and effective ways to provide a year round food scource without going broke on fertilizer and farm equipment. Many of the areas I had to work with were ridgetops with heavy clay and with lots of chert. Like many have said in this topic, Johnson Grass was very common. I studied agronomy and soils in college when no-till farming practices were just becoming popular. The move away from year cultivation of soils were due to soil compaction and fertilizer runoff. I still remember listening to my soils professor going over data of yield returns of corn and soybeans. I'm going off memory so these number might not be correct, But it went something like this:
-first year of no-till 25% less return than that of conventional tillage
-Second year same return as last year of conventional tillage
-Third year 25% more return than last year of conventional tillage

This is especially importmant when dealing with heavy clay soils. As BSK stated earlier, He noticed higher water infiltration his soils had after the tilled, then his soils would not hold enough moisture during summer months to sustain growth, and his soils were hard as a rock when he returned the following year for tillage. Thus, you are removing the soils natural pore space. By breaking up the soil you loosening the existing stucture, Then when it rains the fine particles settle in to the pore space, when soil temps rise and drought conditions occur you are "baking" all the materials out of your soil. Thus making a brick. The addition of sulfer based fertilizers only make this problem worse.

This is same mistake I made starting out a few years ago. Then I was in a hurry before a rain a couple years ago, I had a field sprayed with gly and didn't have time to disk. So I doubled my seeding rate of Rape with normal rate of Ladino clover. Drug the field with a harrow. The clover made it for two summers with heavy drought and by far the best stand I had seen in this area. I have tweeked my planting to disk the top inch with with disk. This Breaks the thatch layer and still leave a little residue on the surface. leaving a thatch layer on the surface will cause a hydrophobic condition in spots. Thus, not letting way infiltrate the surface. Causing patches to become weak and promoted weed infestation. Cultipacker or light drag is a must. On new platings areas where lime is needed I will cut my areas where I have limed with a disk to 6" and remove rock. Hope you found this helpful. I will be more than happy to share my research with anyone if interested or questions in general.

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#3024396 - 11/09/12 06:54 AM Re: Ridge top plots [Re: BT1]
BSK
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 Originally Posted By: BT1
This is especially importmant when dealing with heavy clay soils. As BSK stated earlier, He noticed higher water infiltration his soils had after the tilled, then his soils would not hold enough moisture during summer months to sustain growth, and his soils were hard as a rock when he returned the following year for tillage.


If I may, let me clarify my experiences. We have never been able to grow summer crops in these food plots, even before tillage. The soils were too thin to allow root penetration and too dry in summer. The soils allowed no water infiltration during summer downpours (the only time they would experience adequate water infiltration is during the slow rains of the cool months of winter and spring).

Yes, we are experiencing amazing levels of soil compaction over the dry summer months after tillage, but the soil was far more compact before tillage. I'm not exaggerating when I say I could bounce a pick-axe off the surface of the ground. They were concrete before chisel plowing. We even destroyed a brand new disk in just 8 hours of use. The ground was so hard, any angle at all on the disk's gangs put so much side-ways pressure on the axles that the front gang's axles stretched to the point the disks were flopping around (and even destroying the disk did not break the ground--didn't do anything but just scratch the surface). We are experiencing recompaction of the soil after tillage, but it is still less compacted than before tillage. At least moisture will penetrate and the soil is turnable after a rain.

Now I fully admit that trying to turn the grass thatch into the soil (removing it from protecting the temperature and soil moisture retention) could cause problems. But in the past, when we planted these plots by the simple method of mowing the grasses, waiting a week and then spraying with glysophate, and then broadcasting seed onto the surface, produced very poor germination for anything but the smallest seeds (a lack of soil contact). Now we experience much better seed germination (although later growth may be hampered by rapid soil drying and excessive soil temperatures).

All that said, I'm all for the best research possible into making productive food plots in very poor soil conditions. I'm all eyes and ears.
_________________________
"Know where you stand, and stand there" --Jesuit Father Daniel Berrigan

"There is no reasoning someone out of a position he has not reasoned himself into." --Clive James

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#3024454 - 11/09/12 07:36 AM Re: Ridge top plots [Re: BSK]
jmb4wd
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Registered: 10/03/07
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Quailman, some great info in the video, and it seems as if it is producing some great results.

One thought I had on it, that they didnt have to deal with is Fescue!. One farmer mentioned that they had been no-tilling for nearly 40 years! Seems as if they started with a weed free seed bed to start with, or at least a great start, not having to deal with a cool season grass like fescue.

One side question--wonder how they plan on combating some of these gly-resistant weeds like pigweed and marestail?? I guess in the case of that rye, is the cover crop so thick during the growth stage that it shades it out, and once it is rolled that it just supresses those type weeds?? My little plot that I grow beans in at my house had a little marestail last year, and this year it was overrun with it, as a matter of fact, it was taller than the Eagle beans, some of which are 5ft tall. I wonder if by growing a cover crop this winter and spring it the thatch would supress it? Id love to know if this might help.

Also, just as an observation, (I know there are very few ridgetops, not trying to hi-jack) here in Rutherford county where I live. I am seeing row crop farmers working ground again in large numbers. I am curious as to why? Does the soil benefit from incorporating the thatch, or relieving some compaction after say 10 straight years of no-tilling, then one year of tillage, and then returning to no-till operations??

While I deal with it some on ridge tops, many of my customers have old hayfields, or simply fescue pastures that we are trying to establish plots in, seems as if a guy could transition those plots by spraying, and maybe burning of the thatch to reduce it, that you could achieve results similar to farmers in the video. After all, who wouldnt mind not to buy any fertilizer at all and grow 200 bushel corn.

Seems to me, just based on my opinion that this system would work great for guys just wanting to grow fall attraction plots, or feeder plots for the winter months. Although, I speculate that the only way to keep annual, and perennial weeds out during the summer is introducing a clover like Duranna to kind of shade out the competition, or simply have a much more active spraying schedule.


For myself, and a couple of my customers that I help plant and grow corn, and beans for, and where it is feasible to use no-till equipment I really look foward to trying this system, and I really think that it would improve some of the problems that we've experienced in the past.
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http://www.backacrefoodplots.blogspot.com

Food Plot Establishment and Maintenance


Justin

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#3024977 - 11/09/12 12:12 PM Re: Ridge top plots [Re: jmb4wd]
jfarm65
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Registered: 09/03/07
Posts: 132
Loc: wilson county tennessee

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We no-till directly into fescue sod and have never had a problem. As far as round up resistant weeds, wait until that weed is up to do your first treatment of gly and add some gramoxone to it, or you can use first rate with the gly when you spray over the top of your crop.
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#3025708 - 11/09/12 08:02 PM Re: Ridge top plots [Re: jfarm65]
BT1
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BSK, I did the exact same thing to a disk last year. I was trying to work the johnson grass into soil and within a couple of hours had a brand new disc in pieces. What has worked best for me in these situations are burning your field down with gly, then set fire to the field, make two passes around your field you wish to plant with a disk or plow before burning (to keep fire form spreading, once your field is burned off, use a 2 or four row no-till dill to plant summer annuals the first spring. If you do not have a no-till drill, use a breaking disk that goes on in front of a turning plow. Your chisle plow should be able to swap these out. This is the most important thing I do to promote water infiltration. I will spray out my plots again in early Sept. to kill off any existing weeds. Then plant plant perenial plots. You will not believe how much of a different slicing the soils. This will not cause compaction and you can do it multiple times a year. I have pictures of the plot on 7/25/2012 and in sept. I just have to figure out how to post the pictures. It was pretty stressed in early July due to the drought, but rebounded pretty nicely with the rain recieved. I don't have nearly the weed problems that I have in other plots.

I have not watched the video yet, but what I don't want to be lost in this is that healthy soils not only retain moisture better, but the micro organisms (bacteria and fungi) that will mine and produce all the the essentials the plant needs.

The reason you are seeing the farmers conventional till is probably due to consective planting of corn. It is common for some farmers to till their soils every 5-10 years. This has minimal effect due to the ammount residue they are turning over at one time. Most farmers will cultipack the field after tillage.

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