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#3010897 - 11/01/12 01:06 PM Re: Ridge top plots [Re: BSK]
Quailman
8 Point


Registered: 08/04/03
Posts: 1414
Loc: Winchester, TN

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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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Registered: 03/11/99
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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
8 Point


Registered: 08/04/03
Posts: 1414
Loc: Winchester, TN

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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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"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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#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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"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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#3011008 - 11/01/12 02:09 PM Re: Ridge top plots [Re: BSK]
Football Hunter
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Registered: 10/22/07
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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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Registered: 03/11/99
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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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"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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#3011901 - 11/01/12 10:28 PM Re: Ridge top plots [Re: BSK]
jmb4wd
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Registered: 10/03/07
Posts: 1186
Loc: Christiana, TN

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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!
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Food Plot Establishment and Maintenance


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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.
_________________________
"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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#3012777 - 11/02/12 01:53 PM Re: Ridge top plots [Re: BSK]
Quailman
8 Point


Registered: 08/04/03
Posts: 1414
Loc: Winchester, TN

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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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