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Opening up old mountain field

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PaRed
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 17, 2013 11:54 am    Post subject: Opening up old mountain field Reply to specific post Reply with quote

Ok fellas, question time. Theres a field on our property that hasnt seen a plow in 100+ years. It was worked at one time judging by the old stone house foundation near it. This field hasnt been mowed in the last 20 years. Id like to turn it into a food plot. Its on the side of a mountain. I have an old 8ft drag disk in decent shape, a set of 2 bottom Little Wonder plows(2-14 I think), and a set of 2-16 Little genius plows. Both plows still function. The LWs dont have coulters. I dug for a soil sample in the middle of the field, and the sod has to be at least 8 inches thick. What is the best way to open this ground up? Im a novice at moldboard plowing. I have a tuned up Super M to work with. Thank you for the help.
 
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Hayfarmer
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 17, 2013 5:23 pm    Post subject: Re: Opening up old mountain field Reply to specific post Reply with quote

on regular, recently cultivated fields here most guys will disc several times going different directions each time to make sure the ground and sod are well cut apart. Then roll sods over with plow. There are other tools such as stiff shank cultivators that also help to get the ground torn up before plowing it. The first year you may have lots of sods left but they tend to break down over time.
 
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donjr
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 17, 2013 5:23 pm    Post subject: Re: Opening up old mountain field Reply to specific post Reply with quote

First off, ditch the plows. Mow it with a bushhog. Wait a few weeks, and spray it with 2 qts of glyphosate to the acre. Then, no-till your food plot. If you can do it in the next week or so, scatter about eight or ten pounds of tillage radish seed to the acre, but don't wait on the roundup too long after spreading the radish. It will soften the ground almost as good as a plow given the chance, and the deer also seem to like it. It will winter kill at about 10-15 degrees for a few nights, and make a nice base to plant into next spring. You can also add some crimson clover and rape seed into that mix.

You'll work yourself to death in that much sod with max till equipment.
 
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DiyDave
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 17, 2013 5:31 pm    Post subject: Re: Opening up old mountain field Reply to specific post Reply with quote

I got about 4000 square feet of radishes growin good, no-tilled, kinda like don said. I sprayed it with roundup, then aerated it, the same day, fertilized, too, with a walk-behind aerator, waited 2 weeks, sprayed the weeds out, with roundup ( a few radishes were up) so I seeded it again, and fertilized it again. Started on the 10th of August, I expect the radishes will be over a foot tall when I check on Friday. The good thing about radishes is they cut right through the sod, and next spring, plowing is easier, and more productive, radishes improve tilth. Google tillage radishes.
 
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JMS/.MN
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 17, 2013 8:29 pm    Post subject: Re: Opening up old mountain field Reply to specific post Reply with quote

No. Read the glypho label. It has to be applied to actively growing plants.....not recently mowed! It"s absorbed thru the leaves and transferred to the roots to effectively kill. Your whole plan is totally flawed! It"s no wonder real farmers get accused of chemical misuse.
 
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 18, 2013 2:31 am    Post subject: Re: Opening up old mountain field Reply to specific post Reply with quote

JMS, read don's post, first sentence: Mow it with a bushhog. Wait a few weeks, and spray it with 2 qts of glyphosate to the acre. In a few weeks, the grass grows back enough leaves, to kill it.
 
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donjr
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 18, 2013 4:30 am    Post subject: Re: Opening up old mountain field Reply to specific post Reply with quote

If you read the glypho label, you'd have known that. And you're right,- that's why us real farmers get accused of pesticide misuse. Amateurs don't read the label and don't use it right......
 
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paul
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 18, 2013 4:42 am    Post subject: Re: Opening up old mountain field Reply to specific post Reply with quote

The complication you offer is the 'mountain' making this a rather steep hillside?

The old ways of working the ground to deth with a plow and disk work well in my cold climate, with my deep soils. The long winter and show cover keeps my soil fresh and in place.

In a warmer climate, on a hillside, on thinner soils, that's not such a good idea.

Spraying the old grass, mowing it into a mulch in a week, (or mowing it first, wait several weeks, and then spray) and then no tilling into that mellow dead sod is a much better way to do things in what I am guessing are your conditions. The soil won't wash away, or break down so fast in your milder winters.

In my conditions, warming up and drying out the ground is my goal.

In your conditions, controlling erosion, and holding on to your thinner organic matter soil would likely be your goal. The decades of sod had really rebuilt your soil, adding root mass and organic material and good stuff. Plowing it up for 3 years will wash and sun-bleach most of that all away again, leaving your soils poorer all over.

If I am guessing wrong on your soils or you just want to plow and disk it anyhow... Typically you plow in furrows to break up the sod and turn it over, this leaves it very chunky.

You disk it some time later, hopefully a little rain in between, the disk cuts up the chunks and the tufts of growing stuff.

Probably disk it again a while later.

Then one would harrow it right before planting it, the harrow kills off sprouting weeds and levels the ground a final time.

Where I live spring is way way too short to do all that, so we plow in fall, do the rest in spring. Where you are in your conditions, I think doing it all in spring works better to save as much of your soil as possible, you have a longer spring to work in.

Just some random thoughts, there are 100 different ways, as I might suggest, it depends a lot on your climate and conditions and soils you have. What many people say works for them in their area, but might not be right for what you are dealing with.

Forgetting the plow, and using a sprayer and a good notill drill to do your plots would by far be the best way I think, but of course that means abandoning the old style implements and spending money on newer stuff. All just for food plots.... I understand that doesn't make the most $$$$ sense here.

Paul
 
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Billy NY
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 18, 2013 7:11 am    Post subject: Re: Opening up old mountain field Reply to specific post Reply with quote

I've done the opposite of what has been mentioned here, so I'll share those experiences, no spraying,(well very little if needed) not using no till etc. with good results in ground that has not been worked in over 20 years.

I'd be curious to know if the ground is sloped or flat.

I would agree with erosion concerns, maintaining what you have which could be some nice topsoil is something to consider and use care with how you do things.

If its 8" deep, before you get to subsoils that is plenty, as if you plow, you don't want to turn up clay or whats under the top soil. There are valid reasons, per what has been mentioned previously, but in my opinion, these tillage practices, for food plots, are still viable, and work very well for example where I use them in the soils I have here.

Some concerns with these methods are erosion, by water or wind, creating a hardpan layer, compaction from tractor tires etc. I am not sure what soils hardpan is prevalent with, or compaction, probably many types in varying degrees.


Being a novice at moldboard plowing is not the end of the world. However, doing a poor job with a moldboard plow will make a mess, and it won't make the best seed bed depending on what you are doing, you can have half turned sod, with weeds/vegetation you don't want turned up that will recover in a short time, so what you plant will have scattered pockets of weeds etc. There is also a concern with some weeds and plowing, turning in dormant seed, something I am aware of but have not encountered here.

So for my plots which were all just planted this year, and have not been in years, I mold board plow the sod under, after mowing. For me, the single bottom I have a Ford 110, shear bolt protected general purpose plow 1-16" I believe, does the best job, on this tractor in those conditions. I have a 2 bottom 101 Ford, but have not mastered its use in root bound, sod conditions, it may be an adjustment I have not been able to achieve, center of draft, or similar, both mind you have been rebuilt with new wear parts except moldboards. I can set the single bottom level front to back, side to side, very easily now as I chocked up the land side of the tractor, right wheel to the plow depth of about 8", then level it with the level box on the right lift arm and top link, test in the field, then measure the distance on each linkage, threads showing to a known point, wrote it down, then set to that each time I hook onto that plow, it has worked quite well for me. Mind you I was a novice 10 years ago, and still consider myself a novice now with the only difference being, I know the results I want to get with the plow and can achieve same with what I think are good results.


My plots are on varying terrain, slight to medium slopes and flat, they are also not very big, well one is considerably larger but its on the flat.

The steepest slope which is plowed and disc'd parallel to the slope has no erosion issues at all, even if it did, its not very big, I could push any soil washed down back in place, there is a sod or root bound buffer surrounding it, and the soils on the bottom appear to be thicker from probable erosion years ago, as it was in crops for many many years, now its wooded, and I have cleared parts of it back. The other reason is I plant it thick with oats, and oats mixed with other forage plants. It germinates and roots up aggressively, with the intense rains we just got, running water flattened a small swath on one side, no erosion, well there is a little luck with that, as there were gentle rains before to get it to germinate and grow, so there is a window where it can happen, but narrow, and this is not a large area to begin with.

I mostly plant oats or oats mixed with other forage, such as TSC's Plot Spike or Whitetail Institute No Plow, which is the best deal they offer, as you get the most coverage, its a no till seed, but aggressive, put that in a seedbed and it does very well, PH, fertility is important for good results but even with lightly tilled, say just on the surface it does very well. I moldboard plow, then disc one pass, I use my bucket on the loader to screed the top if its not level, can push rocks or any clumps of sod off, to the side, which there are not many if plowed right then broadacast oats on top, heavily, a lot more than a grain crop, then I make one pass with the disc, overseed with No Plow. Now you can use less oats, give the No Plow room to grow, in that case I just broadcast less oats. I've done both, and with the right population of oats, the no plow fills in what would be a much thinner stand of oat grass. With a thicker stand of oat grass, I think the oats dominate, so there is an optimum mix of the 2. I go over the oat grass once its up, in the thinner areas, with no plow, to fill in. You can do the same with a clover or other whitetail institute perennials to achieve a stand as the oats will choke out weeds, the other forage will fill in, and to be honest on a small plot properly tilled, you could hand spray as needed to eliminate weeds, I do see thistle and a few other weeds come up, but mostly these small stands of forage do come out very clean, timing is important if you want to knock those weeds down that do come up.

With this latest planting, I have thick stands of forage, annuals, next spring, I could go in with a disc, cultivator,spring tooth harrow lime, fertilize as needed, plant oats, cultipack, then plant a perennial, like Imperial Clover as an over seed, oats being the nurse crop, monitor it for emerging weeds and spray as needed, though I am not sure if there is a conflict with broad leaf and grasses, as far was what you can spray. I've done stands of clover and the weeds were minimal so when the time comes, you are supposed to mow that clover, I believe at least one times, whatever weeds I had did not go to seed, and you could hand spray them, not enough to justify going over entire plot.


Some photos, prepping the seed beds, you can see what decent plowing results look like. My plow did plug up with trash, have to get off the tractor, clear the trash, I did trip the plow and shear bolts on some roots and shale in one area, as well as remove and put back on the coulter, par for the course, mowing keeps live plants from being on the surface, but leaves trash, even with a rolling coulter, you can plug up, I've not found a way around it. Without mowing, this time of year, plants are still live but tough, coulter does not seem to cut them, so if I leave it standing, not all gets turned under, so I cut these areas and deal with plugging at times, but I get the best results between the 2, and I believe the live green plants going under is some nitrogen, my stands are a healthy green now. Some weeds, if you leave roots in the soil or disturb dormant seed, can apparently make noxious weeds come back with a vengeance, just that I have not seen it here, yet, and its all weeds the ground I did plant, late summer planting has benefits and I do see much cleaner soils in the spring, getting ahead of the weeds, whereas along side it where the soil is loaded with weeds, they are more prolific, come back much sooner. I find planting food plots is a lot of fun because you will learn an awful lot, but if things go wrong, its not acres and acres, its large garden size areas, you can deal with it, make corrections. Do this with ag land for crops, well thats a different story, and could waste a lot of money. I've always gotten a decent forage stand, even when I was just starting to do these plots.

In the photos, you can see the tillage, seed beds and oat grass, as of yesterday. No fertilizer, did not check PH, add lime, just could not afford, it but planted anyway, better than nothing, its all mostly oat grass, but there is No Plow in this plot overseeded on top, after the oats germinated, timely rains made a nice forage, ungrazed it would be 8-10" already, more if the PH was right and fertilizer put in. Nothing special, but shows with minimal effort, and using inexpensive oat grass, late summer, is a nice way to give em some nice healthy forage in an area with no grasses, so they browse the usual plants, tree branches, but also get a nice dose of grass when they want, they will benefit from this well into winter, it does help keep em fat, as I have taken deer here when there were 70 acres of oats in the vicinity, they forage heavily on what comes back after harvest.






 
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paul
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 18, 2013 7:42 am    Post subject: Re: Opening up old mountain field Reply to specific post Reply with quote

Nice job; the work, the descriptions, the pictures!

Paul
 
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Billy NY
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 18, 2013 8:05 am    Post subject: Re: Opening up old mountain field Reply to specific post Reply with quote

Looking back just now, I overdid it, looks like I'm trying to take over the thread or something LOL ! Not the case ! With that in mind, I did want to share my experience here, add to the discussion and enjoy what others have to say just the same. Even with my beast of an old worn out tractor, (another story), I enjoy planting these plots, now I can got to my stands, watch over the "herd", select and fill my tags, the rest benefit and know I've done more than just take, though we are loaded with deer, its just the environment, lots of resources for them.
 
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 18, 2013 8:46 am    Post subject: Re: Opening up old mountain field Reply to specific post Reply with quote

I really appreciate the tips guys. The field is mostly flat with a very slight slope in some spots. I dont have the money to afford no till equipment, or a brush hog. All of my equipment was my fathers before he passed away a few years ago. I can only hope to be able to this as good as Billys. Thats a good job.
 
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paul
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 18, 2013 9:37 am    Post subject: Re: Opening up old mountain field Reply to specific post Reply with quote

Flat ground, you are good to go then, Billy has a nice presentation for you.

You mentioned mountain, that made me think this mught be steep ground.

Here where I live, land is never abandoned; we farm every square foot we can find, and don't let it go back. So when I hear there is some bare ground not being farmed, I assume something is wrong with it - poor, rocks, steep, sand, super poor ph, or something that prevents it from being worked up and farmed.

Paul
 
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Billy NY
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 18, 2013 10:11 am    Post subject: Re: Opening up old mountain field Reply to specific post Reply with quote

And its nothing really special at all, just as best of tillage as I could do, small controllable areas, a lot of feed oats at $15/bag, couple of bags of that TSC plot spike, and some timely rain. I did get 50 lbs of No Plow as well. A walk behind broadcast spreader with pneumatic tires is fine for oats, pelletized lime, and fertilizer, with the NP, I used a hand held Scotts broadcast spreader for better control and not waste any of that expensive seed. Even if you have some water erosion concerns or just want to test the waters, start with some small strips, its enjoyable to learn as you go, and if something goes wrong, its not a big deal, I've corrected poor plow jobs, drainage, controlled weeds etc,.without much trouble. The mold board plow results, and how the disc prepared the seed bed after, per whats in my photos is as best I could do with what I have. Its evident that doing a good job with the plow is important, so I made the extra passes with the single bottom vs a lesser job with my 2 bottom, it was a good decision as I did get most if not all of the weeds, grasses etc, to die off as it was hot and dry when I did it, and it was right after I cut the field with the rotary mower. Now next spring, I'll likely get rag weed, some thistle coming back, and possibly some grasses, but it will be a lot easier to deal with, some years I could not plant, I just plowed and left as such, weeds were way behind areas that were left alone, no erosion by water, probably a bit from wind if it got dry which is not for long around here in the colder months.

Everything looks good in photos, thats just a thick stand of oat grass, way over populated, but graze tolerant,the Plot Spike oats even more so.

Hopefully some help and influence !
 
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 18, 2013 10:13 am    Post subject: Re: Opening up old mountain field Reply to specific post Reply with quote

Well Paul, I believe it was farmed at one point as stated earlier. Theres an old stone house foundation, along with what I think may have been an old barn foundation as well. Along with some rotted away horse drawn implement pieces. I can tell you it hasnt been touched by anyone in over 100 years though. Its going to be interesting for sure.
 
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