What do you think about this tillage techniqe?

prometheusgardenJanuary 23, 2013


Wondering if anybody has experimented with the following system:

This will be for mixed veg 5 foot on center beds.

1) Mow cover crop (probably bush hog)
2) Chisel plow soon after
3) Let decompose for around 4 weeks.
4) Run over bed with something like this: http://www.buctraco.com/3%20Online%20Catalog/RowCropCultivators.htm

Trying to avoid violent tillage and wondering if the harrows and roller will create a fine enough seedbed for direct seed crops. My tractor can only handle two chisel shanks, but I think that should be sufficient for the bed size (around 46 inches).


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It probably wouldn't work for a sod, but if the cover crop is just an annual, it might work for the larger seeds. I don't think I would put the smaller seeds into it, but it might be worth trying it.

What you describing sounds to me like what alot of farmers are doing between corn and beans. Most don't mow the corn off tho.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2013 at 6:28PM
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I read a little about rollers on the tractor forums. They get mixed reviews, some people love them. I think it depends upon your soil. There are double rollers, too.

Once again, this is just what I read, but people say that rollers don't handle rocks well at all and mud puddles will clog them up. One criticism that I didn't expect was complaints of them doing too good of a job, or at least pushing all the fine dirt to the surface. A heavy rain would then make a crust that was hard for sprouting seeds to penetrate. I would also think that putting the very finest dirt on the surface would also maximize water and wind erosion, but that is just a guess.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2013 at 7:40PM
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Mark(Oregon, Zone 8)

I think that if you have sandy soil it could work well. If not I think you're going to be left with large clods and lots of weed/cover crop residue trying to regrow.
As Marla said above, this might work for larger seeds but will likely be difficult for small ones. Weeding may be a major problem.

I worked for a 120 acre organic farm that did a no-till experiment for Oregon State University. We used chisel plow and roller to prep the beds and then transplanted squash there, next to the area tilled and planted to the same. The no till area was a disaster to say the least. The growth was slow, insect damage was more problematic and harvest was seriously reduced.
Maybe after a few years of this the soil would respond differently but for the first year it didn't work too well. The farm owners decided not to try again.


This post was edited by madroneb on Thu, Jan 24, 13 at 13:43

    Bookmark   January 24, 2013 at 1:40PM
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Mark, the farmers around here that does this technique, usually go back and pay Roundup over the top. Of course, this is not veggies.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2013 at 4:45PM
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Mark thats interesting, sometimes I wonder if "alternative" tillage techniques need years to be worked into. Like in the case of the no till experiment. Maybe it takes time. I really want to believe you don't need to run a tiller in there, seem like it's not improving soil structure over the years. Maybe chisel plow, then multiple passes with disc?

    Bookmark   January 29, 2013 at 6:27PM
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No till allows for the seed to be drilled (poked) into the soil, thru all the debris from the previous years. After you drill it in, then you need to burn down the weeds that come up from what was left. You can burn it down by fire or by chemicals. You can strip till (just till what you want to plant), you will have rows that weren't tilled that you need to work on regarding the weeds in that area.

Each tillage methods have their positives and negatives. You have to decide what is best for your situation.


    Bookmark   January 30, 2013 at 4:50PM
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