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Bad farming experiment: oat mat

 
Posts: 24
Location: Eastern Washington
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Instead of not getting around to doing a properly designed experiment that looks good, I submit for your consideration a bad farming experiment.
I have a conventional grain farm but permaculture and regenerative ag has all the good ideas if I can figure out how to use them in my context.

So I forgot to tarp a truck half full of oats and the barn cats crapped in it for about 3 years.
I could have sold the oats to a unscrupulous pig farmer but I didn't know any. I could have cleaned them and used these oats for seed, but I haven't gotten around to building a cleaner.
Suddenly needing to use that truck, I dumped the oats on the dead spot were I clean out synthetic fertilizer tanks.
I smeared the oats around with a tractor, pushed them with a landscape rake, and watered them.
After 10 days, they are starting to sprout, but only the ones with good seed soil contact. Spots where they got jammed into the ground are doing the best.
The usual sparrows, blackbirds and doves that hang around are loving this oat pile, but it hasn't attracted birds from the wider area.
Spots where the oats are 10 inches deep are wet on top, and the soil is wet, dry inside the heap after days under a lawn sprinkler.

My main thought was to see how sprouting a mat of too many oats will change this spot that had so much fertilizer that weeds weren't even growing in it.
I'd like to hear your thoughts and criticisms. Are there observations you would like me to make with this odd situation? Other things to try with it?  
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dump oats
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spread oats
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water oats
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sprouting oats
 
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Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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This is an area that will do nicely for remediation of that soil if you add some mycelium.
To that end you can create a slurry by blending up some mushroom caps and diluting that 10:1 before you slosh it around on the oats, this will get the fungi mycelium growing in the non sprouting oats and that will end up in the soil with the roots of the sprouting oats.
Overall that will get rid of contaminates in the soil, support the growth of the sprouted oats and make use of the non sprouted oats as food for the mycelium.
Once the oats are as large as  you want them, simply mow them down and let them rot in place.
If you really want to continue the remediation of this plot, planting another cover crop would be the grand thing to do for a second chop and drop at the end of those plants growing time.
The amount of roots you would be putting into the soil, along with the mycelium will go a long way at remediating that plot so it would be less contaminated with one year.

Most conventional methods are for "instant gratification" where as permaculture and regenerative Ag are more or less on a five year schedule (start of the project to the end of the project).

Redhawk
 
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You probably don't have time and resources to run a chicken tractor on it but that would be a way to get a product while adding to the remediation.
 
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Hans Quistorff wrote:You probably don't have time and resources to run a chicken tractor on it but that would be a way to get a product while adding to the remediation.



As I read the OP, I thought, "Sprout those oats and feed them to the chickens".  Hans -- we think alike.

I don't think chickens would be bothered a bit by the presence of cat crap.  

But even now that the oats have sprouted, I'd still yank them out of the ground if they were only a few inches high and I'd feed them to the girls.  That's still high quality feed.  In fact, it's even better sprouted than it is just straight dry oats.  I'd be out there with a flat shovel, scooping them up and tossing them into a wheel barrow.  Or, as Hans suggests, I'd park the chicken tractor right over the top and let the girls go crazy.
 
Grady Houger
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Location: Eastern Washington
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Thanks for the ideas!
I'll look for some mushrooms to incorporate, though the only ones I find are meadow mushrooms and puffballs. I've been stomping on puffballs my whole life and there's never any more in those areas, they seem to need some specific conditions but I'll give it a try just because.

I give my mom's penned chickens whatever grain I sweep up with rocks in it, but rationed as I was under the impression that too much grain isn't good for them. I'd like to have my own flock of feral permaculture chickens some day. Lots of shelter and food and they have to survive on their own. Then I could see what happens if they have all-you-can-eat grain.
More blackbirds are finding the spot. When I get a chance I'll look close to see if they are eating the sprouts or just the grain.
 
Grady Houger
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Location: Eastern Washington
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Three weeks in and the oats have sprouted well. Not sure how long they will grow before overcrowding becomes a problem. The spots that didn't grow seem to be heavily compacted, or where concentrated fertilizer pooled last year.

There are hundreds of blackbirds digging around all day finding dry, unsprouted oats. I can't find evidence of deer browsing, though plenty are around.

I tried to add a load of free roosters to the experiment. Coyotes were undeterred by a thunderstorm and ate them. Except for Mr. Paranoid, the rooster who was got chased around the most during roundup. He now fears everything and has learned to hide by holding still when I walk by. He hangs around the oat experiment all day, but the blackbirds are likely to be the only significant livestock involved with the oats.

What I'm wondering is growth aspects to look for in the oats that might be enlightening.
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3 weeks growth
 
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